Sunday, July 12, 2020

County asks developers to work with Crested Butte

19 homes could tap into town’s wastewater treatment plant

by Mark Reaman

At the request of the Gunnison County Community Development Department, the group hoping to develop 19 home sites on 44 acres of land on the north edge of Crested Butte will meet with the Town to discuss possibly hooking up to its wastewater treatment system.

A preliminary meeting between town staff and the developers, Cyprus Foothills, LP, was held Tuesday, December 1. Given the progress at that meeting, the developers will appear before the Town Council at its Monday, December 7 meeting.

While a November letter to the county indicated the developers did not believe they were required to hook up with the town wastewater treatment plant simply because of its location, Cypress attorney Marcus Lock stated last week that the group was willing to consider the possibility. “Cypress looks forward to discussing a potential wastewater connection for its proposed subdivision with the town of Crested Butte,” he said. “While we have been considering an alternative to connecting into the town’s systems, both sides could benefit if we can reach an agreement.”

Under an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the town and the county, a wastewater treatment connection is required if a development is within 400 feet of an existing available wastewater treatment system and the connection is determined to be feasible, logical and consistent with municipal, district and county plans. But the developers contend through their letter that the county has ultimate authority to make its own determination as to whether such a connection should be required under the LUR.

Lock said Tuesday that the discussion at the December 1 meeting with town staff was “productive” and as a result and at the staff’s invitation, Cypress was planning to attend the Town Council meeting the following Monday.

Town planner Michael Yerman agreed that the Tuesday discussion was productive and there is opportunity for an agreement that would be good for all parties. “The conversation with Cypress and the town is ongoing over the connection to the Crested Butte wastewater facility,” he said. “Both parties are working toward an agreement that will be mutually beneficial.”

 

In the original letter to the county dated November 12, Lock made several arguments about why the developers were not obligated to hook up with the town facility despite an agreement to that effect between the county and Crested Butte.

He provided a history of how Cypress had begun a process to try to get the land annexed to Crested Butte, but after a year of negotiations over a “pre-annexation agreement” the two sides could not reach any agreement and the developers pulled away from the process.

They are now pursuing a path to develop 19 residential lots under the county Land Use Resolution (LUR).

“If the town will not allow Cypress to connect, does not have adequate capacity to serve the property or the Town conditions such a connection on unreasonable extractions, then I respectfully submit to you that the County has the independent authority to conclude that the Town’s wastewater system is not ‘available,’ ‘reasonably accessible,’ or a ‘feasible’ or a ‘logical’ alternative within the meaning of the LUR,” wrote Lock.

“Cypress’s efforts to annex the Property into the Town have already, demonstrably, failed,” Lock also wrote. “Cypress spent well over a year negotiating with the Town and was never even allowed to submit a formal annexation petition under the Town Code … the parties could not even agree on the terms of a simple pre-annexation agreement, which is expressly required for the ‘extension’ of the Town’s wastewater treatment system to the Property.”

Lock contends the property need not be connected to the town’s wastewater treatment system under the IGA. He details several reasons for the position and concludes, “In short, the Town Code purports to require annexation for the Property to connect to the Town’s wastewater treatment system.” The letter continues, “Past events have already established that the annexation is not feasible….”

Town attorney John Belkin said it appears with these latest discussions there is a chance to strike a deal between the town and the developers. “We look forward to engaging Cypress in the coming weeks on an agreement that works for all the parties, including the county,” he said.

While Cypress has had preliminary talks with the Gunnison County Planning Department, no formal application has been submitted to the county.

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