RIO GRANDE COUNTY — An application has been submitted by a private landowner requesting permits to construct a high-altitude, remote RV park in the Summitville area.
According to the application submitted to Rio Grande County’s land-use office, the primitive RV site would include 54 spaces for summer use with a “pack it in, pack it out” requirement. These spaces would be a mix of tent and RV sites that would not have any utilities such as water, waste, or trash service.
Several residents have voiced opposition to the proposal for fear that the sites and increase in overnight tourism in the area would risk the integrity of the Summitville townsite and historical structures. Other concerns included the increased use of the roads leading to Summitville and whether people using the primitive sites would “leave no trace.”
According to Rio Grande County Commissioner John Noffsker, the board will be taking a considerable amount of time to weigh any decision regarding this proposal.
Currently, Rio Grande Planning and Zoning Commission and Rio Grande County Commissioners are reviewing the countless referral agency’s comments on the project which include comments by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Rio Grande National Forest who have expressed concerns that coincide with those expressed by the public.
“We are going to be exceptionally diligent in considering this proposal. There are several factors that will need to be considered before any kind of decision is made. We absolutely want to benefit the county, the public and respect private landowners while being sure to not cause harm to the historical and environmental integrity of the Summitville area,” stated Noffsker.
Though the land in question is zoned for agricultural use which is part of the land use requirement for an RV park, this project will require more than just the zoning needed to build the proposed project. The private land is bordered by county property on three sides with the restricted Superfund site within less than a mile.
“We have to be very careful with what we allow in the area. We want to utilize the area in ways that will benefit everyone and so we will have to be very careful in how we go about doing that. Visitors and locals alike love the area and the recreational opportunities that are available to all of us up there so we just have to know how to do this the right way and that will take some time,” continued Noffsker.
The Summitville area consists of 12,071 acres of land comprised of county, private and forest service ownership. In the past year, the county has finalized a land exchange with the forest service and worked diligently with the Environmental Protection Agency to minimize the restricted Superfund site to the “bare minimum” to allow the opportunity to use the land available in the best way possible while keeping the historical significance a top priority.
The referral agency comment period ended on May 13. The process is in the beginning stages of consideration and will not be brought to the board for a final decision for several months.