“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind
Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?”
Five Man Electrical Band (1971)
By Jim Mimiaga
Journal Staff Writer
A public hearing for a controversial traffic-control issue at Lebanon Estates was held on site Monday, attracting a couple of dozens residents and neighbors.
Montezuma County commissioners set up a PA system and successfully conducted the outdoor hearing — a first. They passed around a microphone for official public comment and providing water.
“I think we’ll do it that way more,” said commissioner Larry Don Suckla later. “It is a good way to see first hand what is going on at the site.”
At the hearing, neighbors stood in circle in the road exchanging testy claims and counter claims as to the veracity of prohibiting left hand turns from N.8 Loop Road onto Road 25 (Lebanon Road).
Subdivision residents despise the rule, and some have been ignoring the “no left turn” sign. Concerned neighbors support the traffic control, arguing it is a safety issue turning left onto a dangerous county road near a curving dip.
At one point the sign and a concrete barrier were illegally removed by subdivision residents, but the sign was later replaced at the urging of the county. The 65-acre subdivision has 19 lots, but only five homes have been built.
“When this subdivision was under review in 2006, the county commission promised that the most serious traffic hazard at the north entrance would be mitigated,” stated neighbor Jennifer Hay Preston. “One commissioner said that ‘It would be made impossible to turn left.’”
Preston added that the traffic controls were installed “so haphazardly as to not be taken seriously. From the beginning. there was never full compliance.”
Subdivision residents countered that the N.8 Loop road is private and that the traffic requirement ordered by a previous commission is unreasonable.
“We want this resolved and to make it a normal intersection. It is not a safety hazard,” said local resident Dave Hanson. “There are places all along Lebanon with more people than us and less restrictions, but we’re forced to have more.”
Opponents of the sign point out there has not been an accident at the intersection, and noted that if people followed other traffic laws there would not be a problem.
Resident Corbin Claxton, a sheriff deputy, said he cannot enforce traffic rules on private roads.
“If you stop completely, you can see oncoming traffic. Obey the stop sign and the speed limit on (Road) 25 and everything is fine,” he said.
Both sides claimed traffic studies proving their positions that the no “left turn sign” was either needed or not.
The speed limit on Road 25 is 40 miles per hour, and a yellow suggested speed sign is 30 mph at the intersection and curve. There was general agreement that too many drivers speed on that road. The limited sight distance there is a safety concern for some.
“The traffic laws are put there for a reason,” said Jeff Woods, who rides his motorcycle past the intersection often. “You cannot see me coming around that corner. To take a left there is ridiculous, and the next thing you know you are hit.”
A separate exit to the subdivision onto Road 25 is nearby, and has no turn restrictions.
“It’s baffling that an extra 45 seconds is too much for people,” said one man.
“Making drivers do a U-turn (on Road) 25, is more dangerous than taking a left there,” countered another.
But supporters of the “no left turn” sign won a reprieve at the hearing, at least for now.
Under the land use code, all Lebanon Estates landowners must sign off on the proposed regulation change before it can be approved by the commission. The homeowners’ association representative said the HOA are short a few signatures from absentee lot owners, but have the majority in favor of removing the sign.
“Our legal advice is that it must be 100 percent of landowners signing off for the change,” said commissioner Keenan Ertel. “There will always be someone not happy with our decisions.”