July 24, 2008

Water permit secured for 450-home project
By Pamela Lawson

Two years after the Will-O-Wisp Metropolitan District had a hearing date for a 1041 water permit to serve a 450-home development in Park County, commissioners approved the permit July 10.

The lengthy process involved multiple postponements on the part of the metro district and the hiring of a water consultant and water attorney on the part of the county.

“We were the most reviewed 1041 application anyone’s ever seen, just by talking to folks who have done 1041s throughout the state,” said Rick Angelica, president of Will-O-Wisp.

The district applied for the permit to handle the needs of a proposed residential development in Pine Junction called Tanglewood.

Land Securities Investments entered an agreement with Will-O-Wisp more than three years ago to purchase water taps for the 450-home subdivision. LSI is an affiliate of Sunset Management Inc., which built the Conifer Town Center. Ryland Homes would be the builder of Tanglewood and a part owner.

Before the seven-phase project can begin, the developers must secure a few more permits, and they must construct an underpass on U.S. 285 near the entrance of the subdivision.

But Dave Coppfer, a managing partner with Sunset, said Tuesday that the builders are in no hurry to spend millions on the project amid the current housing slump.

“The ownership group hasn’t made any specific decisions on schedule at this point,” Coppfer said. “The economy and housing market are a factor.”

Whether the developers move forward or not, the 1041 permit process is now behind them.

The 1041 process addressed water diversion from Elk Creek to serve the housing project, stream monitoring and operations, and impacts to wildlife and aquatic species, among other factors.

“There were a lot of concessions made — restrictions on how much water can be taken out of the stream and when, based on flow, to appease some of the concerns,” Angelica said.

Now the metro district must iron out details involving a condemnation action with Magness Land Holdings, which owns property where a pumping station will be built near Elk Creek to serve a water pipeline to be constructed by the district.

The condemnation action has been OK’d by the landowner’s attorneys, Angelica said, but a land evaluation has yet to be finished.

One final lawsuit between the district and a landowner over evaporation rights on Elk Creek is still pending, Angelica said. It is related to a proposed reservoir to be built by the district in the Woodside subdivision, and the case is expected to be settled by this fall.

The pipeline will be built from the pumping station in Woodside to the metro district near Wandcrest Drive.

The district is required to serve the water and sewer needs of the proposed development, Angelica said.

Now the metro district must apply for an environmental wetlands permit, he said.

A final design of the pipeline and water storage tanks is under way, though Angelica said there has been no date set for when the project might begin. It would be funded by the purchase of water taps by the developer.

Contact staff writer Pamela Lawson at Pamela@evergreenco.com

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