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  • Dylan Anderson

Routt County finalizes policy capping events like SBT GRVL at 3,000 participants

Policy change, which requires commissioner approval for large events, stems from issues with the popular bike race expressed by rural residents after last year's event.


Special events with more than 1,000 participants that use more than 20 miles of Routt County roads will now need approval from the County Board of Commissioners after the county’s top board approved a new permitting process earlier this week.


The new process has been in the works for months and stems from concerns raised by landowners in the county about the SBT GRVL bike race, which has grown to nearly 3,000 riders over the years. The updated process allows commissioners an additional opportunity to review event plans and require additional mitigation measures for approval.


“I think it’s probably impossible to have a permit process that addresses every single concern that might arise out of any individual event,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “That's why, at least for me, it was so important that we ended up with a process whereby these larger events would be required to go through a process that ultimately ends up with a hearing in front of the Board of County Commissioners.”


The new county policy prohibits events that have more than 3,000 participants from using county roads. It also would require smaller events that use more than 100 miles of county roads to get commissioner approval as well.


Several ranchers expressed support for parts of the new policy in public comment — especially the need for a public hearing — though some said they still had concerns about large events in general. One particular concern expressed with SBT GRVL is that is has often taken place the same weekend as the Routt County Fair.


“I think that some of the concerns that were brought up from the beginning about SBT GRVL in particular, some of those concerns were truly legitimate and changes need to be made,” said Micah Rice, the race director for SBT GRVL.

Rice then gave his personal cell phone number during public comment, encouraging anyone with concerns to reach out to him to discuss how the race can mitigate issues that have been raised.


“We are doing everything we can do to listen, through our own listening sessions and with these other public comment sessions to listen to concerns and then try to find ways to fix these issues,” Rice said. “We’re happy to sit down with anyone.”


Commissioner Tim Redmond said he liked that policy would force the largest events to be considered by commissioners and that they have the opportunity to review any event no matter the size.


“Quality of life is going to be my guiding principle as I look at these this as we move forward,” Redmond said. “I think there’s room for these events, but there comes a point as you said where too much is too much. At that point, I like the idea that we as county commissioners when we look at these special events can say this is too much.”


One of the specific concerns raised was that SBT GRVL has often taken place on the same weekend as the Routt County Fair, a concern noted by Commissioner Sonja Macys. While the event is planned for the same weekend as the fair this year, the date could be part of the conversation when the event gets its permit in the future.


Another aspect of the policy that was discussed was whether event volunteers would count toward the 3,000-person cap. Ultimately, they won’t, because officials felt that could encourage event organizers to run events with limited volunteers.


“This year I think will be a test year,” Macys said. “We’ll see how this goes and It better go better, and if it doesn’t then obviously, we know that we need to hit the drawing board again with a little bit more thorough of a revision.”


Top Photo Caption: Riders travel down a gravel road in Routt County as part of STB GRVL. (Routt County/Courtesy)

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