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Lawmakers issue county's final approval on Scofield subdivision

Staff reporter

The Carbon County Commission issued final approval on the Bolotas subdivsion after a public hearing last Wednesday.

It has been 40 years since the community was first established and the lots were designated incorrectly. It has been difficult for owners to sell properties, finance and do improvements because the subdivision was never legally approved by the county. When surveyed, many property lines were so far off that some structures built since 1961 did not sit on the right lots.

Last year, the county became actively involved in the matter. County engineer Evan Hansen set up a survey with the planning and zoning department and has worked with residents to establish property lines. But the ongoing situation could become more complicated because of some things the federal government is doing in the Scofield area.

Prior to starting the Oct. 15 public hearing, the commission had stakeholders in the subdivision look at documents and maps indicating how the county planned to settle the question of the homes located by the lake in the area.

County building official Dave Levanger addressed the situation with a handout he had developed. The key points to resolving the boundary line disputes and allowing residents to reside and work on the properties were outlined. The county's resolution to the problems specified that:

•The parcels were originally created by deeds. No official subdivision plat has ever been approved or recorded for the area

•The new plat will have the effect of quieting title to the lands involved, as agreed to by the owners.

•The action recognizes lot improvements as they are on the ground.

•The plat will have the effect of establishing in perpetuity true building lots for the owners.

•The Carbon County engineering and planning departments have assisted in establishing lines between existing dwellings as directed and approved by the landowners

•Existing dwellings are now shown on the lots. The boundary lines are between buildings so no structure will encroach on a different lot

•The lots will abut upon and have access to the roadway easements given by Liberty Bolotas to Carbon County and the Scofield Reservoir Special Service District.

The roadways have acted as a "skeleton" for setting up lots, according to county officials.

•The roadways shall remain private property of Spears Gardner Enterprises and will not be maintained by Carbon County.

The organization of a homeowners association is encouraged to defray expenses of maintaining the roads

•The existing building setbacks will be "grandfathered", but any new additions to existing dwellings must comply with the new setback for the SL zone, which is 5 feet.

•The lots are as nearly as possible, as wide and deep as the original deeds indicated.

•Original deeds from Bolotas gave "a right of way forever for ingress and egress to and from the tract of land herein conveyed over such portion of the lands now owned by grantors as may be necessary to have access to and from the high water mark of Scofield Reservoir." Since the Grantors - Bolotas, deeded all available land along the roadway from Platis to Walker, no land was left for lake access. Owners must look to other parcels of land in Bolotas estate (Spears/Gardner) for lake access.

•The official elevation of Scofield Reservoir, as shown on the United States Geological Survey maps, is 7,620 feet above sea level

•Any private property owner wishing to claim additional land located toward the lake shall do so separately from the action approved by the county commission on Oct. 15.

After the group of the subdivision shareholders in attendance at the county commission meeting reviewed the maps and the plats of the area near Scofield Reservoir, the public hearing was opened by Carbon lawmakers.

One resident of the area, Albert Spensko, raised several concerns regarding the way the situation at the subdivision has progressed during the years.

The resident also indicated that he was worried about what might happen regarding the subdivision and the area near the lake in the future.

"I am not clear on which of the two corner markers the county has worked off of on this survey," stated Spensko.

The resident was referring to the original corner marker put in during the early 1960s and a more recent one set by the United States Bureau of Land Management. The BLM put the corner marker in place at the request of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

"We certainly can't use two corners because that would lead to big differences the farther away survey lines get from it," pointed out Spensko.

The problem referred to by the area resident basically stemmed from the fact that the two corner markers are not in line

In fact, the newer corner marker placed by the BLM is eight feet west of the one put in during the early 1960s.

"I also have a problem with the county getting involved in this and surveying lines for private property," stated Spensko.

Carbon government will establish which corner was used for the surveying, indicated the county planning official. And the corner marker identified by the county will carry over in the future.

"I agree with Mr. Spensko that it should all come from one corner," pointed out Levanger. "Actually, I would like to request a title report on the original parcel of land that was divided up to be sure that is all strait as well. That is what we normally do before a subdivision is approved anyway."

Since no original plat had been recorded on the subdivision and the development was allowed to progress, Levanger indicated that the county had a responsibility for straightening out the situation.

Carbon commissioners supported the county planning official.

"The county is at least partly responsible for this mess and it wouldn't be the first time that we had to go on private property to help fix something we were involved in," said Burge.

Following the comment, concerns about the federal government's role came into play at last Wednesday's public hearing.

According to Spensko and other residents in attendance, the high water mark established by the federal government for Scofield Reservoir is several feet higher than the level used for setting the original survey.

In the event the federal government decided to enforce the higher water level mark, the action could mean several cabins and lots would be wiped out.

"If it is established that the high water mark is 7,636.5, we would be left to the mercy of the federal government," stated Levanger.

Despite the possible problem, the county commission approved the plan as outlined, contingent upon all the landowners in the area agreeing on the move. The residents attending the meeting seemed to agree with the action.

But the commissioners pointed out that the situation will be basically unresolvable at the county level and the matter will have to be decided through legal action if all involved parties failed to support the proposal.

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