Minturn looks at land use
MINTURN — Residents expressed both concern and support regarding use of town-owned land at a council meeting Wednesday evening.
Referencing a land deed from 1979, local resident Barry Clark said the town was failing to observe a restriction placed on that deed by those who granted it to the town of Minturn and was risking repossession of the land. Town Attorney Mike Sawyer said while that deed restriction was indeed placed upon the land, the town is not in jeopardy of losing it.
That deed restriction says the land, which runs along the Eagle River in town, is to be used for open space or public use only. The land is currently employing several industrial uses, including asphalt and concrete companies, and the town is planning to expand light industrial use in that area in an effort to recoup some revenue from the land.
Sawyer said he has no reason to believe that the industrial uses that have been on the land contradict the terms of their grant.
“It’s up to the council to decide what constitutes public use,” Sawyer said. “Allowing businesses that employ Minturn residents to operate can be deemed a public use … That property has been industrial for decades, and used for much more intense uses than are out there today. To the degree that those uses are there, the statute of limitations to enforce the deed restriction has passed.”
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Town Planner Janet Hawkinson said she spoke with the original owners of the land, Vail Resorts.
“We’re just not allowed to develop it into residential houses because then (Vail Resorts) would want to get those large profits,” she said.
The land was originally a granite mining site, Hawkinson told the council, before evolving into a junk site.
“This hasn’t been a pristine open space park,” she said. “There’s been tons of concrete piles, huge things of asphalt, before that there was a whole bunch of old, rusted-down cars stored there.”
Minturn Public Works has been cleaning up the site, Hawkinson said, and the town has begun constructing berms to improve views in that area.
“The idea would be to have (the berm) blend in with your environment with native shrubs,” she said.
The council said they expect the land will not always be used for light industry.
“The intent was always to turn it into a recreational site,” Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty said. “The cement company has been the best neighbor we’ve ever had … when they go away it will be a sad thing, but they will go away at some point in time.”
For now, plans are to increase business use of that area, said Hawkinson, who presented a plan to the council Wednesday that showed sub-divided lots which would be available to potential renters.
“It would help open up businesses to Minturn,” she said.
One potential renter is Councilman John Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld’s use of the town-owned property is what prompted the land-use discussion, as Town Manager Willy Powell said he granted Rosenfeld a temporary lease to move his greenhouse business there. Clark said he requested a copy of the temporary lease, but the town produced none.
“I was told it was an ‘oral lease’” Clark said.
A traditional lease for Rosenfeld will be up for council review at the next meeting, Flaherty said.
“We’re open to comments and suggestions,” Flaherty told residents gathered at town hall Wednesday. “Please come back in two weeks.”