Approximately seven feet of snow fell on Rico in mid January creating a wall of snow down Main Street

Town of Rico – February Newsletter

Street Plowing

The Town received over seven feet of snow in a week in mid January.  Thanks for all the patience with the snow plowing.  This was the biggest storm cycle in over ten years.  Besides the large volume of snow, heavy snows in the middle of the week made snow removal even slower. 

With the highway closed, power out, and snow falling faster than it could be removed, it was reminiscent of the good old days when Rico was a far away, undiscovered, almost ghost town that was regularly buried in snow and not a bedroom community to Telluride.  The Town Board has recognized the growing demands for street maintenance as the community grows and changes.  The job description for the new Town Manager position has been adjusted to include public works duties and street maintenance so that additional help can be provided to Dennis. 

Town Board hires new

Manager/Public Works Director

The Town Board has offered the Public Works Director/Town Manager position to Mike England of Orchard City.  Mr. England was the Public Works Director for Orchard City in Delta County (pop. 1,400) for over 20 years.  As the Public Works Director, Mr. England managed the water system operations, a $2 million water system expansion project, parks, and 30 miles of streets.  Mr. England also served as the Town Clerk for two years. 

Orchard City does not have a Town Manager, so Mr. England brings a unique set of broad experiences in small town management to Rico.  The expected start date is mid-February.  An in-formal community get together to meet Mr. England is scheduled for Monday, February 28th, at the Rico Hotel in the Great Room at 6:30 p.m.  Everyone is invited so we hope to see you there. 

Planning Commission Appointments

The Board of Trustees re-appointed several members to the Planning Commission at the regular January Town Board meeting.  Re-appointments include Kjersten Spitzman-Tomer and Greg Anderson as regular members and Genevieve Yellowman as an alternate member.  At the regular January Planning Commission meeting, Tom Bennett was appointed the chairperson for 2005.

Planning Commission Adopts

2005 Work Plan

The Planning Commission adopted a Work Plan for 2005 at its first meeting of the year.  Many items were carried over from 2004, which was expected.  The 2005 Planning Commission Work Plan is posted on the Town’s website at  The Work Plan includes additional land use code amendments to establish standards for condominium subdivisions, highway access, regulations for soils with high lead content, light industrial zone district standards, a proposed historic residential zone district, and miscellaneous revisions to improve the code.

The Work Plan also includes a housing study funded by Region 9 Economic Development, a wetland study funded by the EPA, a watershed study funded by the EPA, and review of the San Juan Forest Management Plan revisions.

Planning Commission Approves Conceptual Plan for 3 lot subdivision

The Planning Commission approved the Conceptual Plan for the Hancock Street Extension Minor Subdivision.  This subdivision is proposing the creation of 3 residential lots and an extension of Hancock Street.  The Planning Commission will review the Preliminary and Final Plats at its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 22nd, at 6:30 p.m.  The Applicant is Asher Hills, which is one of the partners of Rico Renaissance.

Town Board Enacts Ordinances Setting New Requirements for Notices

The Town Board approved a new ordinance that repeals a prior ordinance designating the Rico Sun-Times as the official paper of record.  The new ordinance establishes the official places of posting for notices at the Town Hall and Post Office and publication on the Town’s website at

Town Board Approves the Little Ada West Subdivision

The Town Board approved the Little Ada West Minor Subdivision at its regular meeting in January.  This subdivision creates a 5 acre parcel west of highway 145 from lands owned by Rico Renaissance for the purpose of conveyance to the Town of Rico for a waste water treatment facility site.  Also referred to as the North Cemetery Site, this site has been the focus of the revised sewer plan as the location for a waste water treatment facility. 

Once the Preliminary Engineering Report and Environmental Assessment are revised, federal and state review will occur.  The federal process requires a 30 day public comment period on the revised documents.  Also, the Town will need to conduct public hearings to rezone the property as public facilities.  These processes are anticipated to occur in March or April of this year.

Town Board Approves First Reading of an

Ordinance Rezoning the Core of the River Corridor

The Town Board passed first reading of an ordinance that will rezone the core area of the River Corridor from Residential PUD to Public Facilities and Commercial PUD.  The rezoning is intended to begin implementation of the recently revised Rico Regional Master Plan which plans for a river lodge site at the former Pro Patria mill site and Town owned park areas around this site. 

The rezoning ordinance was recommended by the Planning Commission with the condition that the Master Plan be amended to include specific design guidance language for the River Lodge and a covered ice rink facility.  The proposed amendments also require a public hearing by the Planning Commission and the Town Board to review actual construction prior to final approval of any hotel or ice rink proposal.

Soils Clean-up Moves Forward

The Town and Atlantic Richfield Corporation conducted a community meeting on January 26th to provide an update on the soil sampling results, the status of the Rico Soils Voluntary Clean-up application, the status of the North Rico Repository application, and begin discussions on health risk assessments.  The meeting was well attended and many good questions were asked.  Representatives of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the EPA were present at the meeting. 

Maps of Town showing the soil sampling results are available for review at the Town Hall in the meeting room.  The maps are also posted on the Town’s website, but they are very large files and will take some time to download and open.  At least two more community meetings will be scheduled to review the health risk assessment and details of a clean-up plan.  The health risk assessment serves as the basis for choosing a target clean-up number. 

Atlantic Richfield Corporation plans to clean-up 40 yards this summer, beginning with yards that have over 3,000 parts per billion lead concentrations (a number mutually agreed to by ARCO, Colorado Department of Health, and the EPA).  Yard clean-ups are expected to occur over the next 2 to 3 summers. 

Atlantic Richfield Corporation and Rico Renaissance have also submitted an application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a soils repository north of Town adjacent to the St. Louis Tunnel (just north of the settling ponds).  The soils repository would be used for permanent storage of soils with elevated levels of lead that are removed during the yard clean-ups.  The repository is also planned to be available for the next 20 to 30 years for permanent storage of soils that are removed during future development and excavation in and around the Town of Rico.  While this area is planned for annexation into the Town of Rico, Dolores County currently has jurisdiction and is in the process of reviewing the repository application.  A required public hearing will likely be scheduled in Rico sometime in late March or early April 

The Town and ARCO are working on a draft of ‘Institutional Controls’ for the regulation of future development and excavation in areas with elevated levels of lead in the soils.  These regulations are intended to prevent new health risks from high lead content soils when new development and excavation occurs in the future.  A draft of these regulations is planned to be available for public review by April.       

San Juan Forest Service Management Plan revision process has begun

The San Juan District of the Forest Service has initiated their process to update and revise the San Juan National Forest Management Plan.  The District hopes to complete a draft of the new Management Plan by the end of 2005 and adopt a new Management Plan by the end of 2006. 

The Rico Alpine Society is facilitating community involvement in Rico.  An open community meeting is scheduled for Saturday, February 26th, at the Rico Town Hall at 6:00 p.m. to review the existing Management Plan and discuss Forest Service management issues related to Rico.  Everyone is invited to attend so we hope to see you there.

Upcoming Meetings

Town Board:   Wednesday, February 16th, 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall.

Planning Commission: Tuesday, February 22nd at 6:30 p.m. at the Town Hall.

Community Meeting on San Juan National Forest Management Plan Revisions:  Saturday, February 26th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Town Hall.

Community Meeting to the Meet the New Town Manager:  Monday, February 28th, 6:30 p.m at the Rico Hotel.

Board Vacancies

No vacancies currently exist on the Town Board or the Planning Commission.

Economic Region 9 has a vacancy on their loan committee board.  Please contact Ed Morlan at (970) 247-9621 if you have any interest in serving on this board.  Meetings are in Durango.  Mileage expenses are reimbursed and lunch is provided.

The Dolores County Development Corporation currently has vacancies on the Board of Directors.  Please contact Clyde Church at (970) 259-2143 if you have any interest in serving on this board.