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Adding Secondary Access To Older Neighborhoods Will Be A Challenge

The Tollgate Canyon fire has been contained, but it raises a future issue for Summit County planners—what to do about rural neighborhoods, some of them over 50 years old, that never had two dedicated accesses for safety?

The Tollgate and Forest Meadows neighborhoods don’t have a designated second access—although last week, the county sheriff planned to open a crash gate on the Redhawk Ridge Road nearby if it was necessary.

During his regular report with KPCW, Summit County development director Pat Putt said the recent fire was a “bell-ringer”.

“Not that the county and our local fire protection agencies aren’t constantly working to deal with that issue, it just once again made it very apparent that we have an issue that we need to deal with quickly.” Putt continued, “The good news is we don’t build subdivisions or developments that don’t have dedicated secondary access.” Putt Continued, “What do we do with ones like Tollgate? What do we do with the ones up in Summit Park or Silver Creek or even probably more so, up Weber Canyon?”

He said there’s a lot of work to be done in different areas.

“Can secondary accesses that don’t currently exist now be achieved? The answer to that is yes. The dilemma will be working out where and how to get that access or those easement rights. Often times that is going to be through private property.” Putt explained “I think it is going to be incumbent on us to take a step up, step forward when it comes to our code. Both our fire code, building code, and zoning regulations implementing and managing defensible spaces.”

Putt also said they need to have a dialogue to educate neighborhoods.

“There are communities, neighborhood HOA’s that are dealing with that are probably model in this probably the Colony. A lot of neighborhoods don’t have the financial resources that some of the other larger, newer communities have to deal with that.” Putt said, “I think we need to figure out a way to work with both the fire districts and the county in these areas to begin figuring out how we’re going to do that.”

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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