Elbert County

Independence Service Plans Hearing Part II

Elbert CountyAfter Kate Base’s article above a few days ago, questions have arisen on what do we need to write Judge Spear?  My best answer is to write from the heart!

We all understand this “Independence” project is a big thing.  Where do you/we start?  Independence’s population will be double Elizabeth (1,358 2010 Census) and four times larger than Kiowa (723 2010 Census).  Big things have big problems.

But here’s a few items of note:

You may wish to write a letter to the Honorable Judge Spear that there is no mention whatsoever of the restriction on exporting county water in the Subdivision Improvement Agreement (The Independence SIA).  We were all told at the September Public Hearings the restriction on “exporting water” language would be in there, but it was completely omitted.

And here’s why I believe it was omitted:  Developer Tim P. Craft and water attorney Dianne Miller don’t want the “no export water” language integrated into the SIA like we were promised because:

“The board of county commissioners or any purchaser of any lot, lots, tract, or tracts of land subject to a plat restriction which is the security portion of a subdivision improvements agreement shall have the authority to bring an action in any district court to compel the enforcement of any subdivision improvements agreement on the sale, conveyance, or transfer of any such lot, lots, tract, or tracts of land or of any other provision of this part 1.”

If our county commissioners really had Elbert County citizens best interests in mind, the export water clauses would absolutely be in the SIA protecting the new homeowners of Independence.  Commissioner Grant Thayer’s public remark “buyer beware” to prospective Independence homeowners rings loud and clear now.  Why our county commissioners do not want the “no export water” language in the SIA is beyond me (use your imagination).  Why would the BOCC give up their power to challenge any water export defects in court?  I thought Elbert County citizens came first?  Why don’t they want the “no export water” language there?  Especially after they said it would be there, but now say it’s in the Special District Service Plans?  If it’s not there, it can’t be enforced, right?  Commissioner Richardson calls the SIA an “offsite” document.  That’s laughable.

Colorado Law at Justia

PWSD Singing Hills Multi-Million Gallon Drinking Water Tank
click to enlarge

Another point could be made in the final Independence Water & Sanitation Service Plan, Section X.  Section X should be without a doubt a “material modification” that would require Public Hearing and BOCC approval.  As it is written, nothing at all stops them from connecting a pipeline to other districts.  Two districts come to mind, and both are across the Delbert Road Extension Road just a few feet away in Douglas County.  One; Hilltop Metropolitan District owned by 303 Investments, and two; Rueter-Hess Reservoir Singing Hills Water Storage Tank owned by the Parker Water & Sanitation District.  (The multi-million gallon drinking water tank land off Singing Hills was seized from the Elkins with Parker Water & Sanitation District’s power of eminent domain years ago).  No BOCC approval is required to connect pipeline, no public hearings, no asking, no nothing.   There’s not even a time frame requirement for notice to the BOCC after the fact.  Here’s Section X:

X. INTERGOVERNMENTAL AGREEMENTS

No intergovernmental agreements are proposed at this time; however, the District anticipates that intergovernmental agreements may be required in the future. The District shall provide the County Board of County Commissioners with notice of all intergovernmental agreements entered into by and between the District and other local governments.”

http://www.sodelbertcounty.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Independence-WS-Service-Plan-FINAL-BOCC-9-7-2017.pdf

Remember, Special Districts such as Hilltop, Parker Water & Sanitation (and others) are considered “quasi-governmental” entities.

Say it isn’t so Joe!

Another point may be that ALL SIX Special Districts should contain the strong “no export water” language we were promised at the Public Hearing.  While the Independence Water & Sanitation District Final contains some weak export language, the other 5 including the Overlay District contain barely a mention.  A single half-assed line.  Not acceptable as duties, districts, etc. can be assigned, shifted, transferred, etc. between themselves.  What is restrictive in one district can be reassigned to a less restrictive district.  There is no guarantee a district won’t sell its water to another district that can sell outside the Independence borders and circumvent the spirit of the agreement.  Does anybody remember the attempted 2011 Elbert County Water Heist involving the same water attorney?

1,000 plus Elbert County Citizens Gather

You may wish to write about having a raw sewer reclamation facility approved by commissioners and planners that have no idea of a project that’s never, ever been done before in any residential development in Colorado.  Why are us Elbert County citizens the guinea pigs here?

You may wish to write about where does the other 15% of raw waste from 3,000 plus people go?  By Craft’s best estimates in his application, if 85% of the well water is somehow reclaimed “twice” as he says, where does the other 15% go?  There’s no natural creek, runoff, nothing in their plat.  Does it just magically disappear?  What about precautions for storm runoff?  We occasionally get feet of snow, inches of hard rain, where does it go?  Pots and pans, or runoff through our existing neighborhoods and take the overflow from the shitholes with it?  There are no discharge exit routes whatsoever.

It is entirely possible you did not agree with the Board of County Commissioners decision to run public hearings for the SIX Independence Special District Service Plans AND the Independence 920 PUD Application together on September 5, 6th and 7th.  Public comment was only allowed for a few hours on September 5th.  These were huge programs (more than the population of Elizabeth and Kiowa combined) that needed extended time for our right to public comment and to demand answers to our questions.  Deciding to run them concurrently took away much needed discussion time from both of them separately.  Who gave the Elbert County BOCC the power to circumvent the process?

Why were several letters that were supposed to be public record not recorded?  Why were a few finally put on the County Website just hours before hearing?  Why were letters from Independence supporters like the Walton Group who own the 320 acres next to Independence only posted to the Website hours before the hearing, and not available when they were submitted much earlier, months earlier, in MAY?  It is possible somebody didn’t want them seen until it was too late?

Speaking of Serenity Pointe owners and neighbors to Independence, the Walton Group – how does their Manager of Real Estate Acquisition & Disposition know to send a letter of support for Independence and its TWO schools, when the plat only shows one middle school?  Again, that letter not posted until hours before the public dog and pony show, but written in May.  You can’t ask for an answer if you don’t know the question to ask, right?

Walton Group Independence Letter

It strikes me as odd that I have several emails from the commissioners stating they did not know anything about the Walton Group, nor that they owned the 320 acre parcel next to Independence.  Nor did they know 415+ Asian investors have invested more than $10,000,000.00 in the 320 acres called Walton’s Serenity Pointe next door?  How can that possibly be because if they read that letter like they said “they read everything”, if they read that single letter of support they could not have known Walton Group was a neighbor?  In fact, I was told by Commissioner Willcox, and I quote, “At no time were we interested in the neighboring property or was it discussed”.  How is that possible?  How can you make such a large decision, effecting more people than your largest two cities combined, and say you “weren’t interested” in what or who’s next door?  And how do the commissioners not know about neighbors to Independence, when the Elbert BOCC approved a resolution in 2009 naming Serenity Pointe as a neighbor to the former Bandera?  Back when current County Commissioner Grant Thayer was the Elbert County Planning Commission Chairman.  He worked on this project back then!

Elbert County BOCC Resolution 09-14

“4.) The current site layout shows residential clusters abutting the property boundaries on the north, west, and east. To avoid potential conflicts between agricultural uses and the smaller lots (1/2 acre), the buffer area along these property boundaries should be increased. This will require shifting some of the perimeter lots toward the interior to create additional buffer area, eliminating the perimeter lots, or re-locating them elsewhere on the property. Serenity Point is a proposed development adjacent to and immediately north of Bandera. The lot configuration being proposed along Bandera’s north boundary may be appropriate, provided the open space and road connections are coordinated between the two proposed developments”.

And yet, none of them knew anything. Uh huh.

And why does Commissioner Richardson call us folks opposed to this development “the 1%”?  Did somebody poll 25,000 Elbert County citizens and find 24,750 approve of Independence?  Personally, I think it’s just another show of arrogance against the Elbert County citizenry that wish to protect our water and western way of life.

These are a few questions for Judge Spear who is reviewing the SIX Service Plans.  Some questions are for the Court that is reviewing the entire Independence project approvals and all its documents.

Whatever you write the Judge, just be honest and do the best you can.  Something our elected officials should be doing for us, don’t you think?

Hopefully the good Judge is fair in his review of the Service Plans (and everything that is lacking in them).  Our way of life, our water is important to all of us.  Start writing!

Fairness“, what a concept – especially around Elbert County government.

 

Spread the word

2 thoughts on “Independence Service Plans Hearing Part II”

  1. I was at that meeting and your right, it was a dog and pony show. They made up there minds long ago. It was obvious. Hope the judge denies it all.

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