Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here.
MILLIKEN, Colo. — A Weld County tree farmer says a major state construction project has violated his property rights after state road crews bulldozed a hole in a levee meant to protect his land from flooding.
“There’s no doubt about it, it’s an old bridge. It needs to be replaced,” said Gene Kammerzell of Arborland Nursery, discussing the Colorado Department of Transportation bridge replacement over State Highway 60, which runs right into his property.
The bridge crosses the South Platte River and connects to Weld County Road 46 on Kammerzell’s land. The project required a dirt road be taken over by the state. The road was Kammerzell’s only access to 20 acres of his riverfront property.
“They cut this hole through my dike to give access back to this 20 acres,” he told Contact7.
He stood in a 10-foot-wide gap of bulldozed dirt — a hole in the levee that held back floodwaters from reaching the rest of his tree farm property.
“There’s a total of 70 acres in jeopardy of being flooded because this dike is open,” he said.
CDOT says as part of taking over the land and the access point, crews felt it was necessary to give Kammerzell a different access point, and that was done through Weld County. A spokesperson added that CDOT is trying to come up with a solution on the issue, but it is in the hands of “attorneys and the courts.”
“I’m willing to cooperate with the state. I understand the necessity of the bridge; I have no problem with it,” Kammerzell said. “But I expect construction to be done in a reasonable manner to minimize the intrusion to my property and the consequences to my property.”