March 5, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Fifth postponement of 1041 hearing announced
"Reprinted courtesy of Evergreen Newspapers"

By Pamela Lawson

With less than a day remaining before citizens from Park and Jefferson counties traveled to Fairplay for an important water hearing pertaining to a large development in Pine Junction, the applicant postponed that hearing for the fifth time.

Park County commissioners had reserved the entire day on Tuesday, March 6, to hear testimony regarding a 1041 water application for the Will-O-Wisp Water District, according to a representative of that office.

But about noon Monday, the applicant requested a postponement of that hearing, citing the need for more time to respond to a brief water study completed on Elk Creek last Thursday by the Division of Wildlife.

The cross-section study took about two hours to complete on Elk Creek, according to WOW water district president Rick Angelica. The study analyzes the depth, flow and velocity of the stream, he said.

Angelica said the results could be available by late Monday afternoon, but he said that might not allow enough time for his district to prepare a response.

"We were all set to go, to move this forward and get this approved," Angelica said of the water hearing. "I would like to move this off my plate."

Angelica said that numbers in the past have been collected, and "a lot was agreed upon" regarding Elk Creek, but even so, he was reluctant to say how long the response to the report might take.

"It could be five minutes or five days," he said. "I don't want to go unprepared."

But the latest development is not the first time the applicant has postponed.

Sandy Berryman, chief administrative officer for the Park County commissioners said WOW first scheduled the 1041 hearing date for July 12, 2006. Then it rescheduled it for Aug. 30 and later Oct. 13 before commissioners finally heard partial testimony Dec. 6. That hearing was continued by the commissioners until Jan. 24, which might have potentially allowed them to make a final ruling on the matter, but one week before that hearing, the applicant again asked that it be postponed, and that date was later set for March 6.

The postponement affects the schedules of many individuals from attorneys to citizens who had made special arrangements to be in attendance. The hearing is one of a final few steps for WOW that could pave the way for Ryland Homes (in a joint endeavor with other business partners) to move forward on plans to build 449 homes in the area.

"I am just surprised; I would like to know the reason why," said Robert Nevadomski, HOA president of the Woodside subdivision, which is challenging the district's water rights to a point of diversion on Elk Creek. "Jeepers - we thought they had to give 24 hours notice."

Berryman said that 24 hours notice is not required but her agency is already making contact with those in the county who were affected to reschedule the hearing as soon as possible. No date has been set, but it still could be in March, she said.

The fisheries biologist was unavailable for comment regarding last week's test.

Check for updates on this story.

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