February 21, 2008

Will-O-Wisp, homeowners reach settlement on Woodside pipeline
By Pamela Lawson

The Will-O-Wisp metropolitan district in Pine Junction has reached an agreement with three homeowners in the Woodside Park subdivision in a condemnation suit to build a pipeline and pumping station there.

"They agreed to all the stipulations regarding the property and everything," said Will-O-Wisp president Rick Angelica. "We haven’t settled all the dollar amounts (for land acquisition), but we expect to seal the deal shortly."

The three landowners in Woodside Park units 5 and 6 include Magness Land Holdings, Doug Windemuller and David Brown, who own lots 134, 133 and 131.

"This was far, far from a nice settlement," Windemuller said. "After much research by our attorneys, we discovered that special districts have a broad power base. I am not happy that any of this is happening, but we had no alternatives."

The project and land purchase will encompass a section of land about 12 feet wide and at least 150 feet in length, according Angelica, though Windemuller contends that it will actually take up about 24 feet of space for the easement.

A pipe measuring 4 inches in diameter will be placed underground, and the terrain will then be restored to its original, natural state.

"Restoring it back to ‘natural’ is easy to say, but just imagine what it’s going to do to this meadow," Windemuller said. "I am going to estimate the hole will be 25 feet deep; can you imagine the destruction that will go on in this meadow to build it? Not to mention the noise of the pump — they threw out language three times in the settlement saying it’s in the 1041 stipulations."

The pumping station, at roughly 10 by 12 feet, will be built underground on the Magness property. It will have a door on the side of a hill similar to an "old-style root cellar," Angelica said. The 20-horsepower electric motor will likewise be underground.

Settling the condemnation suit was one of two major stipulations required by Park County commissioners last summer before they would agree to approve a 1041 water application for the district.

Will-O-Wisp serves more than 100 homes at present but could serve up to 450 more in coming years as part of a Ryland Homes development being proposed in Pine Junction.

A second stipulation has already been settled over the location of a diversion point where stream water is to be accessed.

A local landowner challenged the initial location stipulated by Will-O-Wisp, so the district has identified a new location for that diversion point.

"Based on the state engineer’s recommendations, we moved it from just over the Magness’ property line to just over the Windemuller property line," Angelica ?? said.

"We will start pumping from there."

Windemuller challenges an assertion that it’s "just over" his property line, claiming the adjustment in location is more like 300-plus feet from what the district originally identified.

Concerns by the homeowner association that condemnation of the land for the pipeline would cancel out the HOA covenants were also addressed.

"The covenants go away for only that piece of land, not the whole neighborhood," Angelica said. "All we are doing is an easement; it’s only what a judge allows."

One requirement by the homeowners was that construction on the pipeline be carried out during daylight hours, Angelica said.

A separate dispute between an HOA and Will-O-Wisp over easement rights for the construction of a reservoir to serve the district will go before a judge March 12-15 at the Park County Courthouse in Fairplay, according to Windemuller.

"Our association has spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. They should be paying all this — they want this," he said. "They are taking our quiet, peaceful neighborhood and turning it upside down."

Angelica said the district has no plans to build the reservoir any time soon. The district is describing the reservoir plan as a "third backup to our water supply."

To build a reservoir would require another 1041 process, Angelica said.

"We will probably look into it in the future — we don’t need it right now," he said. "Maybe when the developer has 100 or 200 homes sold — we haven’t made any determination yet of when we feel we will need it."

The development will be built in seven phases, with between 40 to 80 homes in each phase. The project could span 20 years or more, Angelica has been told by the developer.

"They feel they would be selling approximately 10 to 15 homes a year … depending on the market," he said.

To qualify for a building permit, the developer must first construct an overpass at Wandcrest and U.S. 285, which would be required by CDOT to accommodate increased traffic produced by the housing project.

The next move for Will-O-Wisp will be another trip before county commissioners to secure the 1041 permit. If that is approved, the district could soon after construct the pipeline.

Contact staff writer Pamela Lawson at Pamela@evergreenco.com

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