We all heard it. Several times.
At public hearings over three evenings before their approval vote (3-0) on September 7th, 2017 – we heard our Elbert County Commissioners promise that several “negotiated” changes would be made to the 920 home “Independence” application. Over two hundred concerned citizens heard our BOCC say the county attorney and developer would work on the language for changes that needed to be made to the Independence subdivision improvement agreement (SIA) over the coming hours and days. Our Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the application that night with the understanding the “discussed” details would be worked out in the SIA. Elbert County Citizens were left trusting our commissioners, county attorney, a developer in new cowboy boots and a special district “water” attorney to get this done satisfactorily and all “above board”. Exactly why and how an application was approved before it was completed is beyond me, but I guess in our county government we shall trust.
And it turns out most of what they said would be haggled out in the SIA is in the final SIA. Most. From my notes they mentioned curbs and roadwork along the new Delbert Road Extension. That’s in there. They mentioned that same road would have to be completed before the 371th home permit would be issued. That’s in there. Chip seal of CR 158 to CR 13 at the builders expense, check, it’s in there. Many of the so-called “negotiated” commissioner demands are in the document. Language clear, concise, and issues addressed.
It’s pretty much all there EXCEPT the biggest and most important item of all. After a short break on the second night of public hearings, we all heard Tim P. Craft and Dianne Miller agree to NOT export any water outside the borders of Independence without a public hearing and BOCC approval. This was by far the most important issue facing all of Elbert County. We’ve seen attempted water theft around here before, and it was clear they both reluctantly agreed that NO water would leave the borders of Independence without a public hearing AND BOCC approval.
“You have to understand the psychology of our community,” Thayer said to Miller and Craft. “There is great fear that we’ll be merged with another metro district or export water.
“If you want to step outside the metro district, if you want to do it without coming to us first, I’m afraid — I’m not afraid — I’m pretty sure you’ll have trouble,” Thayer said as the room erupted with applause.
After consulting with his legal team during a recess at the second meeting, Craft made the concession to meet the request of the commissioners.
“By placing borders around the metro districts, they can’t do anything with any of their metro districts’ infrastructure outside of their borders without a notice to public hearing and approval by the BOCC,” Thayer later said.
But there’s NOT A SINGLE MENTION of that agreement in all of the final SIA. None. The Independence Special Districts are all mentioned by name. The other issues are addressed. But there’s not a single word about what we feared most. Zip, Zero, Nada.
And to top it all off, if our leaders eventually do tell us that this agreement indeed somehow, somewhere does exist, if there’s some kind of agreement in place in some special district document, some initialed map overlay, some other paperwork they can wave around and say, “here it is right here”, well, that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter one bit because here’s why:
Page 11, section 30. It is very clear. Crystal clear. And this line will hold up in court every day, all day (click to enlarge):
So basically, if it’s not in the SIA, it doesn’t exist. It’s not “herein”, capisce?
This is like that chick Lucy that pulls the ball away from Charlie Brown right when he goes to kick it.
And we fall for it every time.
Crooked is, as crooked does.
Wayne Ordakowski, a concerned Elbert County citizen.
UPDATED: Read Part II of “Who’s Kidding Who Here”, rebuttal from a County Commissioner