Trail advocates push to preserve right of way at Prehm Ranch |

Trail advocates push to preserve right of way at Prehm Ranch

The Garfield County commissioners will reopen a public hearing on whether to vacate a 60-foot-wide right-of-way through Prehm Ranch on Monday, Aug. 19. The commissioners took the action July 26.

Commissioner Walt Stowe said the Prehm Ranch final plat also goes before the county commissioners on Tuesday, Aug. 6, and the main topics of discussion will be the Prehm Ranch right-of-way and access into Westbank.

The right-of-way extends through the entire length of Prehm Ranch and into the Westbank subdivision, both south of Glenwood Springs along the Roaring Fork River.

Stowe said there was little interest in the right-of-way vacation during a public hearing three months ago. “It wasn’t even on the radar screen,” Stowe said.

Stowe said since the road vacation hearing, the commissioners have been hearing from people in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs who want to keep the right-of-way open for a bicycle trail and footpath.

“There’s a new interest,” Stowe said.

The vacation is also part of a pending lawsuit settlement between Garfield County, the Westbank Homeowners Association, and Marlin Ltd., which is developing the upscale Prehm Ranch subdivision.

According to court documents and public hearing testimony, Marlin wanted to use the 60-foot easement from its Prehm Ranch to create vehicle access to Westbank from the north, thus creating two access points to the ranch. But the county commissioners ruled against the request.

In September 2001, Marlin used the easement to punch a narrow road to Westbank’s Oak Lane, prompting the county commissioners to sue the developer.

The Westbank Home Owners Association, fearing increased traffic on their streets, also petitioned the commissioners to vacate or invalidate a private easement, dating from 1971, to prevent vehicles from accessing their neighborhoods from Prehm Ranch.

The current settlement between the three parties, which has not been approved, calls for Garfield County to vacate its right-of-way through the Prehm Ranch.

Prehm Ranch would restrict vehicular access on the road to Westbank with an electronically controlled gate, and limit to 27 the number of vehicle trips per day.

A disputed provision in the settlement says that only “owners of lots in Prehm Ranch” and their “accompanied guests” can use the Westbank access easement.

The Westbank Home Owners Association and Marlin have been unable to agree on what an “accompanied guest” is.

On July 18, the home owners association filed a motion for declaratory judgment and motion to enforce settlement, and asked the court to define “accompanied guest.”

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