Roads lead to trouble at Four Mile Ranch |

Roads lead to trouble at Four Mile Ranch

by Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

Read between the lines of the proposed “No Trespassing” signs at Four Mile Ranch for the message, “The party is over, especially for vandals, and even folks walking their dogs.”

The Garfield County commissioners played a hand as party poopers Monday, turning down a request to close Four Mile Ranch roads, and instead suggesting the subdivision owner put its property off limits to the public. The commissioners then urged the Garfield County sheriff to “vigilantly” enforce the action.

The commissioners acted after Four Mile Ranch representatives said vandals or possibly “eco-terrorists” drained the vacant subdivision’s 300,000-gallon water tank earlier in the summer.

Four Mile representative Guy Harrell told the commissioners he isn’t sure whether what he called “eco-terrorists” drained the water tank. “But it was someone who knew what they were doing,” he said.

People are freely using the vacant land.

“People are walking their dogs there, and treating it like a public park,” said Four Mile attorney David McConaughy. “There have been several cases of vandalism – keg parties.”

Glenwood Springs residents voted down Four Mile Ranch’s annexation and development plan, called Red Feather Ridge, June 24.

The property owner, MidFirst Bank of Oklahoma City, subsequently put the 132-acre property south of Glenwood Springs on the market for $7.75 million. Roads, fire hydrants, a water tank and other utilities were built by the property’s previous owner, who lost the property in foreclosure.

On Monday, McConaughy and Harrell asked the commissioners to temporarily close Four Mile’s roads, which are publicly owned but maintained by the property owner, as a way to restrict access and reduce vandalism until the property is sold.

Commissioner Tresi Houpt said she understands the Four Mile owner’s concerns about vandalism, but said many of her constituents who live on private roads face the same problem.

Commissioner John Martin suggested the Four Mile owner post signs that say the public must stay on the roads, and that trespassers will be prosecuted.

“But the roadway is a right of way for the public,” Martin said.

Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Mike Piper, who did not attend the meeting, said the Four Mile water tank was drained when someone opened a fire hydrant last July.

“There’s a fire hydrant every 500 feet,” Piper said.

Piper said he doubted the tank was drained by eco-terrorists. Vandals also opened fire hydrants on Walz Avenue and in the Oasis Creek subdivision at about the same time.

“I think it’s kids,” Piper said. “Someone must have gotten ahold of a hydrant wrench.”

As for posting the property, Four Mile’s “no trespassing” edict may be difficult for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department to enforce.

“We usually need to get a complaint from the property owner,” said Jim Sears, the department’s commander of emergency operations. “If we’re driving down the road and see someone, we don’t know if it’s okay for them to be there.”

Sears said the Four Mile owner could send the sheriff’s department a list of people allowed on the property, a practice followed by other absentee land owners, and individuals who aren’t on that list can be cited if they are caught.

“That’s normally what happens,” Sears said.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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