Garfield County Road 306 still closed, dispute in the hands of lawyers
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Residents of western Garfield County remain unhappy over the closure of a loop road west of Battlement Mesa after a failed installation of a pipeline by a gas exploration company.
According to county officials, the road could be fixed in a matter of days, but the project has been delayed due to legal negotiations about rights of way and other matters.
“That has to do with the lawyers,” said Dale Hancock, the county’s director of general services and public information officer.
Hancock said the engineering for the project is done, and that county road crews could finish the work within “three to six days,” but that there is no indication of when the crews might be able to start.
The closed road, County Road 306, loops southward from County Road 300 up the Wallace Creek Drainage, over a low saddle and down Spring Creek to rejoin CR300. The two CR300 junctions are only about half a mile apart.
The problems with CR306 arose in the fall of 2008, when the Noble Energy Co. tried to build a pipeline along the furthest point in the loop as it crossed the land of the Dutton family on Wallace Creek Road.
Noble reportedly had an agreement to drill gas wells on Dutton land, but was prohibited from “transporting off-lease gas [from wells not on Dutton land] over our property,” said Linda Dixon, a member of the Dutton family.
Dixon said the company “tried to do an end run” around the no-transport clause by getting Garfield County’s permission to lay a pipeline along CR306 where it passes through the Dutton’s property, thereby avoiding a long haul around over rough roads and not violating the Dutton agreement.
But the project got fouled up and damaged the county road, prompting the county’s closure. And besides the damage to public and private property, a question arose as to whether the road is in its proper right of way. The road at that point was deeded to the county by Norm Dutton, father to both Dixon and Dorothy Nauroth, who lives along Spring Creek with her husband and family.
Nauroth has complained that the closure has forced her family to make a long drive around the loop to get to cattle they have grazing on the Wallace Creek side of the divide, an inconvenience that has lasted for nearly a year. She also has accused county officials of “bending over backwards to accommodate [the Dixon/Dutton faction]” while keeping the road closed, a charge the county denies.
The dispute led to accusations of harassment and assault in May, but no official charges were ever filed, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s office.
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