Ballot Measure 1C: Peak 7 neighborhood divided on road paving at a cost of $20,000 per landowner
Editor’s note: The above photo caption has been updated to correct when the photo was taken.
On Election Day, members of Summit County’s Peak 7 local improvement district will vote whether to pave their roads at a cost $6.66 million. If passed, the measure will affect more than 300 homeowners in the Peak 7 neighborhood.
The money would fund the paving of 21 roads in the area, primarily focusing on American Way and on Ski Hill Road from the northern U.S. Forest Service boundary south to Discovery Road. Additional roads include Adams Way, Brook Street, Burro Lane, Discovery Road, Glory Hole Drive, Lone Hand Way, Pine Circle, Prospector Circle, Protector Circle, Protector Place, Quartz Circle, Shadows Drive, Sitzmark Circle, Skicrest Lane, Ski Pole Court, Ski Tip Road, Thunderhead Road, Timber Way and Twin Pines Court.
The neighborhood is divided on the issue of paving, with some who feel paving is absolutely necessary and others who think the costs outweigh the benefits. If passed, each landowner would have to contribute $20,000 to cover the cost of the project. That payment could be made up front or through a 10-year financing agreement, which includes 5% interest, bringing the final cost to $26,000 or more.
According to the Summit Board of County Commissioners and state statute, the following people can vote on the measure:
- Those who live in the district, including renters and owners
- Those who own property in the district and are registered to vote in Colorado
Many residents of the district think the county should foot the bill for the paving project, but Commissioner Thomas Davidson said that’s not possible.
The county hasn’t paved neighborhood roads since the TABOR amendment passed in 1992, Davidson said. Now, many counties run significant road improvements through a local improvement district process.
“The local improvement district process is very specifically guided by state statute,” Davidson said. “Our role really and truly is that of facilitation.”
Karen Esposito, a full-time Peak 7 resident, has lived in the neighborhood for five years. She said she has lived on dirt roads in Summit County for more than 20 years but that the other neighborhoods in which she lived don’t get the same amount of traffic as Peak 7. She feels the roads should be paved and said that when she and her husband bought a house in the neighborhood, they assumed the roads eventually would be paved and that the county would not pay.
“I know that the county, they don’t pave neighborhoods,” Esposito said. “My understanding is that they never have. Everybody agrees our roads are bad, and they need to be paved. I just want it to pass. … It’s dividing our neighborhood.”
Esposito also mentioned that new infrastructure could be added during the paving. Neighborhood resident Shannon Bosgroaf confirmed there have been informal talks with Xcel Energy and Comcast about putting electricity lines underground and installing new fiber in conjunction with a paving project.
On the other side of the issue, Beth Steele, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2013, is concerned about the cost of the project, which she said has doubled since she received the original petition claiming the cost would be about $10,000 per property owner.
“The cost is now close to $20,000 per parcel, which seems pretty outrageous,” Steele said. “It’s hard to understand why the private citizen is asked to pave the public road.”
Steele said she is also worried about people driving faster along paved roads and that the work will disrupt the rural nature of the neighborhood and the wildlife that lives nearby.
“I don’t see that the benefits of paved roads outweigh the detriment to the community,” Steele said.
Architect and part-time Peak 7 resident Mark Harris said he is using his urban design background to inform residents about what the paving could bring.
An important aspect of the design that Harris pointed out is that Ski Hill Road and American Way would be paved 5 inches deep and 22 feet wide while the remaining roads would be paved 4 inches deep and 20 feet wide. Five inches is the minimum required asphalt depth for collector streets, according to the Summit County Land Use and Development Code.
Examples of collector roads in Summit County include Ryan Gulch Road, Ski Hill Road and Wildernest Road. Harris said this designation likely will result in heavier traffic.
“Once you call that street a collector, it facilitates a certain traffic count,” Harris said. “There’s going to be high traffic, and the traffic is going to be going infinitely faster than it is right now. (People) are going to be seeing paved asphalt out their front door, and there may be less dust and there may be less potholes, for a little while, but they will also see more traffic. If you want to see what Peak 7 will look like, go look at Peak 8, go look at Peak 9.”
Bernhard Fritz-Krockow, who is a member of the neighborhood committee in support of paving the roads, has lived in the neighborhood for three years and said paving is sorely needed.
“If you drive through the neighborhood, it’s a lottery,” Fritz-Krockow said. “You might be going over potholes; you might be going over smooth roads. Driving through the roads on a daily basis, it’s terrible. There’s dust everywhere. We inhale it.”
Fritz-Krockow said he did some research on unpaved roads and when traffic counts warrant paving. According to a study by the University of Minnesota, “gravel road maintenance costs per mile appear to increase considerably after 200 vehicles/day.” Fritz-Krockow said the traffic count in the Peak 7 neighborhood was more than 600 vehicles during Labor Day weekend in 2018, according to a Summit County traffic count study.
Proponents of paving also mentioned the increased safety associated with paved roads, citing a letter from the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District supporting efforts for improved road conditions.
“People are very passionate on both sides, and we’ve been very cautious to follow statutory procedures,” Davidson said.
Summit County local improvement district No. 2019-01 (Peak 7) debt authorization
Shall Summit County, Colorado, debt be increased $6,660,000 by the issuance of special assessment bonds for the purpose of financing certain roadway improvements within Summit County local improvement district No. 2019-01 (“Peak 7”), and to be payable solely from special assessments to be levied against property within such district receiving the special benefits of such improvements?
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