Our view: Good gates make good neighbors | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Good gates make good neighbors

Steamboat Pilot & Today

At issue

Despite suggestions the move might appear “unfriendly,” county commissioners have approved a request by the Marabou ranch luxury subdivision to keep its gate locked

Our view

Private property owners have the right to limit access to their properties

We wholeheartedly agree with Routt County planning commissioners’ Thursday vote to allow the homeowner’s association at Marabou Ranch subdivision to install a lock on its main gate, which was prohibited in the subdivision’s original 2005 county permit.

At issue

Despite suggestions the move might appear “unfriendly,” county commissioners have approved a request by the Marabou ranch luxury subdivision to keep its gate locked

The luxury home development situated west of Steamboat Springs was permitted under the county’s land preservation subdivision ordinance, and maintaining an unlocked gate was included as a condition to the original 2005 approval.

Since that original approval, however, the development has been plagued by unauthorized entry by members of the public and even a few instances of burglary, despite the presence of a large sign at the entry point that stipulates the community beyond is private property upon which trespassing is not allowed.

“Since the development of Marabou was completed, members of the public have unlawfully accessed the area, despite the large signs at the entries informing the public that Marabou Ranch is private property,” Steamboat attorney Daniel Berkey wrote in a letter to the Routt County Planning Department. “These trespassers are most commonly road and mountain bikers and fishermen. Regrettably, the signs have not been enough to prevent trespass. Further, there have been several burglary incidents at the main lodge.”

In counterpoint to Berkey’s letter, however, some 20 residents penned their own missive to the county, opposing the locked gate and saying the allowance of such is “not in keeping with the friendliness of Routt County.”

“Let’s keep Routt County friendly, welcoming and participative, and not allow a culture of exclusion and elitism to take hold and grow,” the residents wrote.

While we understand the emotions behind the idea that locked gates equate to unfriendliness, it also occurs to us that routinely venturing onto someone else’s property when one has not been invited — when, indeed, one has specifically been asked to keep out — is not particularly friendly, either.

Furthermore, and as Assistant Planning Director Kristy Winser pointed out at Thursday’s meeting, there is nothing in the county code that prohibits locked ranch gates, and there is abundant precedence for their existence throughout the county, including other ranch subdivisions in the Steamboat area — Storm Mountain Ranch and Sidney Peak Ranch, for instance — both of which maintain and utilize locked entry gates.

The bottom line is, private property is precisely that — private. Requesting a locked gate be allowed at Maribou is really no different that posting “no trespassing” signs or locking the door to one’s home. It doesn’t imply unfriendliness or exclusivity, rather, a desire to control who enters one’s property and when they do so.

And in Maribou’s case, those monikers are further contradicted by the subdivision’s numerous actions to the polar opposite, actions such as playing host to road cycling and mountain biking competitions and serving barbecue at community picnics.

Maribou’s desire to keep its gate locked isn’t “unfriendly,” nor is it in any way in opposition to county regulations. Instead, it’s simply a group of people saying, “Keep out of our home until you’re invited.”

And to us, that seems perfectly reasonable.

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