South Fork Town Board passes Browns Drive resolution


SOUTH FORK- After hearing a presentation from Rio Grande County Public Health Director Emily Brown Oct. 22, the South Fork Town Board heard financial updates from town Administrator Dan Hicks.

The board was provided with an explanation of Resolution 19-17 which stated that, the road called Browns Drive in South Fork is a road that has been in place for 25 to 60 years. On the west end, Browns Drive merges into Riverside Drive and continues east to the intersection of Browns Drive and Riviera Drive. The west to east portion of Browns Drive is parallel to Highway 160. There are two connector roads that connect the west/east portion of Browns Drive to Highway 160.

Browns Drive, just described, is paved with asphalt and the asphalt pavement is approximately 24 feet wide throughout. Browns Drive has been paved with asphalt for more than 20 years.

Portions of Browns Drive cross over two (2) separate privately owned parcels of land; parcel 2135200204 and parcel 2135201009. The majority and remainder of Browns Drive is on land owned by the Town of South Fork.

Browns Drive is the only vehicular and pedestrian access road for the commercial and residential lots located on Browns Drive, as well as, the only access for the subdivisions of Riverside at South Fork Ranches West and East, Riviera Estates 1 and 2, Rivers Edge RV Resort and Rivers Edge Mountain Views. These areas represent about 175 privately owned lots and the majority of the lots have residential or commercial buildings constructed on them.

Browns Drive has been used as a public road for more than 20 years without private property owners blocking or stopping the use of the road where it crosses over their parcel.

The Town of South Fork has maintained, (including patching potholes, middle paint stripping and snow removal) all portions of Browns Drive for more than 20 years. Browns Drive has been shown as a road on public maps for over 20 years.

Browns Drive is the only service route to the properties serviced by Browns Drive for the providers of emergency services (Fire, Police and Medical EMT’s). Colorado State Statute CRS 43-2-201 (1) allows the Town of South Fork to declare Browns Drive a public road through adverse use. The Statute requires 20 years of continuous adverse use.

This declaration requires that all portions defined as Browns Drive, including the portions on private property, to be used continuously as a public road.

The declaration does not change the ownership of the private property, property taxes or street addresses.

A public hearing for property owners and public input was held June 27, 2019, in front of the Planning Commission. The required rules for a public hearing of advanced notice were followed including letters of notice to all property owners within 300 feet of Browns Drive and hearing notice publication in the South Fork Tines. The hearing took place as planned. Over three hours of testimony was given and at the conclusion of the hearing, the Planning Commission established a 90-day period to consider the testimony before meeting on the matter again at the Oct. 16, 2019, Planning Commission Meeting.

After the 90-day period, a draft of the resolution to declare Browns Drive a public road was created and reviewed separately with each owner of the two private parcels. The owners recommended clarification in the draft resolution to be made regarding business signage and parking on the private owned parcels. Based on the recommendations, adjustments were made to the draft.

In this situation, the role of the Planning Commission is to hold the hearing and make a recommendation to the board of trustees on whether to declare Browns Drive a public road. At the Oct. 16, 2019, meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Commission approved their Resolution 19 – 01 recommending to the board of trustees to approve Resolution 19 -17 Declaring Browns Drive a Public Road.

Board members voted to approve the recommendation of the Planning commission and passed Resolution 19-17 unanimously.

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