Elk Creek Campground ‘making progress’ toward permit compliance, still could be fined by Garfield County
The Elk Creek Campground near New Castle has taken several steps toward addressing code violations and other concerns with Garfield County, a representative of the property, which is now in foreclosure, reported to county commissioners Monday.
While that holds potential enforcement action by the county at bay, it doesn’t mean the owner, or any successor through a future real estate transaction, couldn’t be liable for upwards of $12,000 in fines for allowing tenants to stay on site illegally through the winter, county officials said Monday.
County Commissioner Mike Samson, for one, said he’s inclined to go after that money.
“That piece of property, ever since I’ve been a commissioner, has been a pain in the hind-end,” Samson said of violations dating back to prior owners in the late 2000s and regular complaints from neighbors of the campground situated on East Elk Creek Road.
“I think we seriously need to look into this notice of default,” Samson said of a possible avenue to seek fines of up to $100 per day since the campground has been out of compliance. Camping was to have ceased on Nov. 1, 2021.
Samson even suggested finding a way to use some of that money to reimburse campground tenants who paid rent for their camper or RV space in advance, and then were told they had to leave before the winter was up.
“They were taken advantage of,” Samson said.
Sean de Moraes, who was appointed the receiver in the foreclosure action against campground owner Beau Haines, told the commissioners on Monday that four campers remain on site because they are frozen in and can’t move until the snow and ice melts.
They have been advised that they will need to relocate as soon as it’s possible, de Moraes said.
County permits allow only seasonal camping in the 67-space Elk Creek Campground between May 1 and Nov. 1. Documents also state that there is to be a 60-day limit for camping, although neighbors and some previous campers have said that hasn’t been enforced for several years.
A private engineers’ inspection determined that the campground’s septic system is not seeping into the town of New Castle’s Elk Creek water supply, de Moraes said.
That was a primary concern expressed at a previous meeting with the county commissioners by New Castle Town Manager David Reynolds.
A separate contractor also was able to fix the campground’s water system, and the water is now being chlorinated again, de Moraes said. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Garfield County officials have been in the loop through that process, he said.
Trash that had been piling up on the site has also since been removed, he said.
At this point, given the time it would take to forcibly remove the handful of tenants who remain, that’s not something the county is inclined to pursue, County Attorney Tari Williams said.
Such actions can easily take 60 days, she said.
“Our goal is compliance,” Williams said, adding that if reasonable progress is being made to address health and safety violations, enforcement action won’t be taken.
De Moraes said in a separate interview following the meeting that it’s still possible the campground could open for the season on May 1, although the ownership situation remains uncertain.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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