May 17, 2007

Park commissioners send letter to Jeffco as 1040 hearing looms

By Pamela Lawson
Staff Writer, High Timber Times

In a continuation of events related to a controversial development planned in Pine Junction, Park County commissioners sent a letter last week to Jefferson County commissioners seeking more future cooperation regarding intergovernmental agreements on water issues.

The letter sent May 8 was to “re-extend an invitation” to Jefferson County to join Park County in entering an intergovernmental agreement that currently exists between Park, Eagle, Gunnison, Pitkin and Summit counties.

“Re-extend” was the operative word.

According to the letter, Park County commissioners had already asked Jefferson commissioners in February 2006 to participate in decision-making processes that involve jurisdictional lines.

The purpose of the letter may involve the recent uproar by Jefferson County citizens over a proposed 450-home development called Tanglewood that would access water from Elk Creek and could affect downstream residents.

That uprising reached the ears of Jefferson County commissioners, who crafted a letter to Park County in January 2007. In that letter, the Jeffco commissioners “echoed the concerns of our citizens” regarding possible impacts to Elk Creek.

But if Jeffco had already been part of the intergovernmental agreement, the commissioners may have had a chance to weigh in more thoroughly on these latest issues, according to the Park County letter.

“The fact that there is an application in Park County that may have an impact that crosses our jurisdictional line into Jefferson County is the very nature of the issue that we have addressed in the existing IGA. It allows each of us that are directly impacted by development not within our jurisdictions to hold a public hearing under the 1041 regulations concerning said development,” the Park County letter said.

While the invitation is being re-extended, it is too late to enter an agreement for the purposes of Tanglewood, a representative of Park County said last week.

Kathryn Heider, a Jeffco spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the county’s development and transportation director, said the letter had just been received and it was too late to add to this week’s agendas for discussion.

“No one has had a chance to read it or digest it,” she said.

The letter is the latest in a series of events involving a 1041 application by the Will-O-Wisp water and sanitation district to serve the Tanglewood development.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 29.

At least six other hearings have been postponed on the matter since last summer. And two lawsuits against the district have been filed: one involving an HOA that claims its “residential only” covenants are being violated by the district’s plans to condemn a portion of private property to build a commercial pumping station and pipeline. Another lawsuit by a homeowner claims that the homeowner owns the point of diversion in question.

The district claims to own the rights to the diversion point.

In addition, Will-O-Wisp filed a condemnation suit against a property owner in the subdivision to access the diversion point by means of an easement.

The first hearing on the condemnation case was May 8, but the judge continued the case because he did not have sufficient information to make a decision, according to an HOA member who attended the lengthy hearing.

Time will tell whether that postponement will affect the upcoming 1041 water hearing before the Park County commissioners.

That hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. May 29 in Fairplay.

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