Thunderstruck has ‘one strike’ against it for permit violations |

Thunderstruck has ‘one strike’ against it for permit violations

Riders play in the powder during a trip with Thunderstruck Adventures.
Thunderstruck Adventures/Courtesy photo

Thunderstruck Adventures, a snowmobile and ATV touring company, came under fire from the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, May 2, for violating terms of its special-use permit.

Commissioners told company representatives, including operator Clay Hockel, that if the company does not come into compliance with its permit by July 1, the company risks having its permit revoked.

“I’ll preface this by saying I’m irritated with you, Clay, and your operation,” County Commissioner Tim Corrigan told Hockel. 

Thunderstruck Adventures appeared before commissioners to discuss violations of the special-use permit that was last amended in October 2021. 

The planning department had received complaints from constituents regarding Thunderstruck’s operations, triggering a review of the special-use permit by commissioners. 

Thunderstruck failed to obtain a building permit for a small structure near county roads 80 and 80A outside of Hayden that the company used to house equipment and facilitate operations. 

One issue was that the company built the structure on agriculture forestry property without an agriculture structure permit. 

Hockel explained to commissioners that he had previously been given a building permit for a larger structure, yet the winter weather and other factors prohibited him from building one. He was under the impression that because he had this building permit, he could put a smaller structure in place in lieu of the larger one for which he obtained a permit.

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Corrigan, involved in originally issuing the permit, questioned his misunderstanding.

“If you look at the county’s special-use permits and terms of approval, I find it hard to believe there’s a lot of room for misunderstanding in terms of what was permitted and what wasn’t,” Corrigan said to Hockel during Tuesday’s meeting.

Also in violation of the permit, Thunderstruck Adventures temporarily stored 60-100 snowmobiles outside of its Hayden location. Documents from the meeting show these rentals were for people who wanted to snowmobile without a guide. Thunderstruck Adventures has two locations — Steamboat Springs and Hayden — yet only one permit for offering unguided tours, and that permit was for the Steamboat location.

Hockel said Thunderstruck was not running unguided tours in Hayden, and that the company was just moving the snowmobiles back and forth between locations.

In addition to the vehicles being outside, the number of snowmobiles onsite exceeded the maximum number approved for the operation. 

Since being notified of the violations, the county planning department has been working with Thunderstruck to get the company into compliance. “We have been having constructive conversations as of late that he is only allowed to do what he was approved for in his permit,” Planning Director Kristy Winser said of working with Hockel. 

Now that commissioners have established and verified the violations, Thunderstruck will have an opportunity to rectify them and renew the permit versus having it revoked. 

“As we move forward, please be aware, in my mind, you have a strike,” County Commissioner Tim Redmond said to Hockel. 

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