The Dolores Town board on Monday implemented a fire ban, discussed building permits and debated whether to require facial coverings in public.
Colorado health orders do not require people wear facial masks in all public spaces, but some towns have required it, including Durango.
Dolores was divided and undecided on the matter.
Residents weighed in during a public comment period.
Linnea Peterson, who owns the Dolores Food Market, supported a requirement that people wear masks in public spaces.
“It would benefit Dolores to require masks. I do not see COVID going away anytime soon,” she said.
Linda Johnston, who manages GST Liquors, did not want to expand on state orders. Although her employees wear masks, she wanted individual business owners to decide whether customers also wear them.
“The businesses should dictate to customers if they have to wear masks,” she said.
Julia Anderson commented that requiring masks be worn in public spaces will protect retail workers and the community at large.
“There are a lot of outsiders coming through town and into stores from areas like Arizona with a lot of COVID activity,” she said.
The board was divided as well, with three trustees voting in favor of mandatory masks and three voting against.
Trustees Sheila Wheeler, Tracy Murphy and Melissa Watters favored a mandatory mask order. Val Truelsen, Chad Wheelus and Jen Stark preferred to follow state guidelines, which do not require masks in all public spaces.
“We took an oath to maintain the health and well-being of citizens,” Wheeler said.
Requiring masks “is not an infringement on freedom, it is about protecting others from contracting the virus. This is not a time to be selfish, it is time to be compassionate,” she said.
Mayor Chad Wheelus preferred to stick with state guidelines, saying a mask requirement “may be overstepping the bounds a bit.” But he said the town should be prepared to follow a mandatory order from the state.
Truelsen agreed that businesses should decide whether mandatory masks were appropriate. Forcing people to wear masks in the park, on trails and on playgrounds and athletic fields was not feasible, he said.
Watters said a mask requirement would allow businesses to explain to customers that it was a town decision.
Other newsThe Town Board implemented a fire ban within town limits because of the severely dry conditions. The fire ban prohibits campfires in town and open flames.Exceptions to the ban are residential charcoal and gas barbecue grills, commercial enclosed incinerators and welding or acetylene torch activity if done within a 20-foot radius free of vegetation with extinguishers and water supply readily available. Burn barrels equipped with a ¼-inch screen shall be allowed when conducted in a 20-foot radius free of vegetation.
Sheriff Steve Nowlin reported on illegal ATV use in town.Nowlin said there have been complaints about ATVs, and warnings have been issued to tourists and locals. Citations have been issued to repeat offenders.
In April, voters rejected ATV use in town, and the town is now considering posting signs about the ban.
Trespassing and litter have been a problem at the Big Rock swimming hole, which is on private property. Nowlin said officers have informed river users that the area is not open to the public, and there are plans to distribute maps showing where river access is allowed.Truelsen suggested the town consider creating a “replica Big Rock” on the river near Joe Rowell Park and The Beach area that has legal access.
Residents were reminded to use the bear-proof cable lock on trash containers, since bears have been seen roaming Hillside Avenue and Merritt Way.Dolores officials reminded the public that the town has a building permit system. In the past few months, several projects were discovered that did not have the required building permit, and people claimed they did not know a permit was needed, said building inspector David Doudy.A few projects were modified to meet town code, including an improperly built staircase. It was suggested a small sign be posted going into town notifying people that Dolores is zoned and requires building permits. Contractors and real estate agents also were to be contacted about the permit system.
Residents are advised to call Town Hall to find out whether their home improvement project requires a permit.
Escalante Days has been canceled because of pandemic restrictions on large gatherings, but the mountain bike race will be held Aug. 8. To replace Escalante Days, the Dolores Chamber of Commerce is organizing a community yard sale, sidewalk sales and farmers market on Aug. 8 to replace Escalante Days events. For more information, go to the Dolores chamber’s Facebook Page.firstname.lastname@example.org