Minturn voters: Sharpen your pencils
Minturn residents are one step closer to deciding the fate of a proposed recreational vehicle park this November.
The Minturn Town Council passed the first reading of a resolution Wednesday night that would put the issue to a vote of the people on Nov. 2. The council must approve the resolution again at its next meeting to ultimately place the question on the November ballot.
Residents packed into the council chambers Wednesday night and Councilman Bill Burnett was present for the meeting for the first time since July 8, when the aging town leader was sent to the hospital after he tripped in front of the town offices.
Like several residents who spoke Wednesday night, Karen Briggs said it was time to put the controversial project in voters’ hands.
“Bottom line, it has divided this town,” she said. “Why not let the town decide? The people decide? The taxpayers decide? It doesn’t make sense to rake this over the coals one more time.”
The council voted, 6-1, to place the question on the ballot. Mayor Hawkeye Flaherty, a vocal opponent of the project, cast one of the approving votes. But Councilman Tom Sullivan, another vocal opponent, was the lone opposing vote. He said the town didn’t have enough information to place the issue on the November ballot.
“I generally believe we should let the people vote for it,” he said. “But to me, we are rushing this.”
Rocky Mountain RV Resorts, the developer for the proposed resort, would rent town-owned land on Minturn’s south side to build and operate an RV resort. However, when the developer submitted the ballot question to the town it stated that the company would have an option to purchase the land, as well. The addition bothered the council across the board.
“I never, ever have heard of an option to purchase and then they sneak it into the ordinance,” Sullivan said. “To me, it’s just a sneaky trick by a development company.”
Councilman Fred Haslee pointed out that the public must approve the sale of any town-owned property, anyway. But he chided Sullivan for his remarks and then suggested his opposition may stem from business interests. Sullivan owns the Minturn Inn.
“I don’t know how we can proceed slower than we have,” Haslee said. “You’ve been against this since day one. I don’t know if you think it’s going to threaten your business. … Citizens are reasonable. If they want it, great. If they don’t, then that’s fine.”
The council amended the resolution to delete the option to purchase and also the word “bonded” to further ensure the town’s lack of financial liability in the project. The developer plans to pay for the entire cost of the project, including a recreation and community center that would be used by the town and the resort.
The council’s next meeting is Sept. 1. The resolution must be passed a second time to place the proposed RV park on the November ballot. The deadline to place the question on the ballot is Sept. 8.
The ballot question specifically asks voter if they approve the town entering into an agreement with Rocky Mountain RV Resorts to build a resort on town-owned land. A gravel pit operation currently sits on the parcel in question.
Even if the RV park question is placed on the ballot, and the public approves it, the project must go through the town’s normal approval processes. Ultimately the council will have to approve the project’s design before it can be built.
Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com.