Carbondale business owner OK with $500 fine for encroachment |

Carbondale business owner OK with $500 fine for encroachment

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” A Carbondale business owner says he’s fine with a $500 yearly lease the town is asking him to pay for an inadvertent sidewalk encroachment.

“I don’t feel that $500 is an unfair amount of money whatsoever,” said Craig Rathbun, co-owner of Sunburst Car Care. “We’re just grateful to the trustees for allowing us to encroach on the right of way for those few feet, instead of having to move our equipment.”

The town’s board of trustees on Tuesday met in the middle on how much to charge Sunburst, after a new vacuum system installed when the business changed hands last year was found to be partially in the town right of way on Buggy Circle.

The issue has also prompted the town to revisit its policy with regards to building permits. Because the Sunburst renovation did not involve any structural changes to the building, the business was advised that a building permit was not required.

Had a permit been required, the problem likely could have been avoided.

Trustees admitted the town shares some blame, but also felt the property owners should have known where the property line was before installing the vacuum system.

Leases for similar encroachments around town are common, especially if a commercial operation stands to gain from using a portion of public property for their business. Most are $100 or less per year, but the town board was split on how much to charge Sunburst.

Separate motions for $1,300 and $100, as well as one essentially asking that the vacuum system instead be removed from the sidewalk, all failed. The board eventually agreed to the $500 figure.

“Mistakes were made on all sides here,” Mayor Michael Hassig said. “It’s apparent we need a clearer building department policy if people are constructing something next to the property line.”

The town is in the process of hiring a new building inspector, and will make sure the preferred policy is made clear, he said.

Meanwhile, Hassig said the town shouldn’t be overly punitive, especially in a down economy.

“They’re just trying to maintain a business that pays sales taxes and employs workers,” Hassig said.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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