Rowland says town manager trying to bully commissioners

Coe Latham, the Public Works Director for the town of DeBeque holds new signs (no trucks over 7,000 lbs.) The town of DeBeque will post new signs Monday on 45 Raod in DeBeque.

Right here is De Beque; over there is Mesa County. Less than a tenth of a mile down the road, right here is Mesa County, and over there is De Beque, according to a pair of freshly planted, blue and white lettered signs that read: “County Maintenance Ends Here.”

The signs, seven of them costing taxpayers about $200 each, alert motorists to more than boundary lines. They are a physical manifestation of the war of words that has endured these past two years between the Mesa County Commission and the town of
De Beque.

The war is heating up.

A proposal for an 800-acre waste-
water facility has been submitted to Mesa County. In order to reach the facility, trucks must pass through one mile of De Beque, but the town has begun posting signs limiting truck weights to 7,000 pounds. It is threatening to start ticketing overweight vehicles, including water trucks heading up V Road to the proposed facility.

County Commissioner Janet Rowland said the county road maintenance signs are necessary because of recent annexations by De Beque.

The acquisitions include: property being developed by Schlumberger, an international oil field services company; Blue Stone Valley, where a planned residential development with some retail has been proposed; the intersection of Interstate 70, where a Kum & Go convenience store is under construction and is expected to open in October; strips of land south of town along the north and south sides of the Interstate 70 frontage road that include an asphalt plant and various industrially zoned businesses; and property for a proposed subdivision that never materialized north of town near the wild horse area.

Mesa County sued De Beque in a failed attempt to stop the annexations. The county contended the small town did not have the wherewithal to provide essential government services, such as road maintenance, to those areas.

“(De Beque Manager Bruce Smith) annexed them, and when he realized we were right, he asked the county to maintain those roads, and we said, ‘No,’ ” Rowland said. “He is now trying to bully us by this little trick up his sleeve.”

According to Eric Bruton, manager of the Mesa County Road and Bridge Department, the maintenance signs indicate to his employees where to plow in the winter and where to maintain in the summer with painting and pothole patching. The distances between some of the signs are: 0.8 mile stretch south of town on 45 Road; 1.9 miles on 45 1/2 Road; and less than one-tenth of a mile on 45 1/2 Road between Fourth Street and the Colorado River.

“For them to say, ‘We are going to pick up our plow when we go by,’ I could care less,” Smith said. “The town has the equipment to do that.”

The town also has the equipment to block its roads to heavy truck traffic: weight-limit signs and town marshals. 

Earlier this week, Smith yanked Mesa County’s weight-limit sign, which allowed for loads of up to 85,000 pounds (or greater with a permit from Mesa County) and replaced the with 7,000-pound weight limit signs.

Smith said the county sign was posted in the town’s right of way and violated De Beque’s comprehensive plan, which forbids heavy truck traffic on
45 1/2 Road.

“(Mesa County) did it to piss us off,” Smith said.

Asked if the De Beque town marshal would enforce the weight limit posted on the sign,
Smith responded, “You bet we will,” as he drove past one of the signs in his 9,000-pound Chevrolet pickup.

In an e-mail to The Daily Sentinel, Smith stated the town’s position even stronger.

“Water trucks, and others, will be overweight,” Smith wrote. “Once the signage is installed, the town police (De Beque Marshal’s Office) will begin issuing tickets for overweight vehicles.”

The signs alert people to more than boundary lines or weight limits. They are a clear sign that a fight is on.

“It is obvious we are not getting along very well,” Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis said. “It is due to one individual at the town, and that is the town manager. ... Bruce is forcing our hand. You think we like doing this? We don’t.”

In response, Smith accused Mesa County of approving unsightly developments that border his town, despite the objections of De Beque.

He points to several developments along Interstate 70 that the county approved, such as an asphalt plant, Boats USA, Old West Trucking and various trucking operations. The operations, Smith said, pollute the air, do not provide sufficient screening, store materials illegally and violate county and De Beque codes.

“People live here for Christ’s sake. What about them?” Smith asks. “The problem in De Beque is to keep the county from screwing the place up.”


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