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Chaffee County commissioners covered a variety of topics during their all-day work session Monday, reviewing the Hill Ranch vegetation update, meeting with local developers to talk about the application process and discussing the future of Stone Bridge.

Gerry Knapp, a contractor hired by Pueblo West for the revegetation project, formally presented his plan for this year, despite having discussed it with the commissioners and residents at a meeting in October.

Knapp said he has learned a lot about the water rights in the area, and the terrain isn’t really suitable for flood irrigation.

He plans to switch to using high-powered sprinklers during daylight hours and doing some small area flood irrigation during the night.

Knapp said this spring he will focus on seeding more warm-season grasses, as the cool-season grasses are already doing well. His plan is to seed about 100-150 acres.

Issues raised with land use code process

Several local developers, led by Karen Adams and Jeff Post, met with the commissioners and county staff to share their concerns about the county’s land use code application process.

Post said he thought “it is not always a clear, laid-out process,” and it seemed like requirements could change between the preapplication meeting and later steps. Post suggested having a check-sheet.

Dan Swallow, director of development services, said there can be changes between the preapplication meeting and later steps, as staff usually hasn’t had the chance to review the application before the meeting.

Swallow also said the staff only directs the county Planning Commission, who may request further tests or reports.

“We can only enforce our regulations,” Swallow said. “It is always within your rights to ask for specific land use codes or building codes. If we can’t supply them, we don’t require it.”

County engineer Gary Greiner suggested compiling minutes of the meetings, to make sure both sides understand just what is said and expected.

Browns Canyon Bridge

Swallow and his staff talked with the commissioners about the Browns Canyon Bridge, also known as Stone Bridge.

The bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

Jon Roorda, county planning manager, said an inspection in August was unable to access the bridge’s footings due to high water.

But based on an underwater inspection in 2013, Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., the inspecting firm, recommended the county close the bridge to vehicle traffic, which it did.

Bunny Dines, who owns land on the south side of the bridge, was on hand for the discussion.

She said she can access her property from another, longer route, but the bridge does get used for search and rescue purposes.

Commissioners recommended looking into using a gate instead of barriers, so the bridge could be used for emergency vehicle traffic if needed.

They also asked staff to look into another underwater inspection.

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