Still no word on permit for justice center |

Still no word on permit for justice center

Susan Cunningham

A decision on whether to issue a wetlands fill permit that would allow Routt County to build its new justice center just west of downtown Steamboat Springs still has not been released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

That continued delay, Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said, has been frustrating for the county, leaving it unable to make any progress on the project.

“All we want right now is a decision one way or another so we can figure out what our next steps are,” Stahoviak said. “Until that happens, we continue to be in limbo.”

In mid-November, Army Corps officials said they expected some word — either in the form of a decision or a request for more information — to come before Thanksgiving.

That has not happened, said Tony Curtis, the Frisco Regulatory Office chief for the Sacramento District of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Curtis sent a document to the Army Corps District Office for review a few weeks ago but has not heard from those officials.

“(I have) not received official word from them, or unofficial word for that matter,” Curtis said.

He said he hoped to hear back this week and guessed that the holiday played a part in the delay.

The Army Corps gave the county a preliminary denial of the permit in a June phone conversation but allowed the county to submit additional studies before making a final decision.

Curtis has reviewed those studies and has issued a statement that is being reviewed by officials at the district level. Curtis did not say whether that statement proposes a final decision or a request for more information

Routt County has proposed building its new justice center on a site just west of town, adjacent to the county jail.

The proposal met with controversy, with some residents forming the Friends of the Justice Center group, which opposes moving the courts and associated offices from the downtown location because it would take investment away from downtown and would have other negative effects.

Because the permit request has been controversial, Curtis said the Army Corps’ decisions have to go through stages of review.

The county has scheduled weekly briefings on progress on the justice center, but those frequently are canceled as there is no new information while the county waits on the Army Corps, Stahoviak said.

“It’s very frustrating for us because we were told that once Tony received the studies that he had requested, that the decision would be made very quickly, and that obviously has not happened,” Stahoviak said. “We don’t know what the delay is, we don’t understand what the delay is.

“We just continue to be hopeful that it will be a positive outcome for the county and that we’ll get an approval.”

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