Water & San denies Hunter Ridge again

Property still considered annexable into Mt. CB

[ By Kendra Walker ]

After a public hearing and board meeting on June 14, the Mt. Crested Butte Water & Sanitation District board voted 3-2 to deny the proposed Hunter Ridge development’s inclusion into the district.

The proposed 10 acre property located at 45 Hunter Hill Road adjacent to Mt. Crested Butte, was previously denied inclusion into the district in December 2020 before a three-person board. The project’s application for a 16-unit subdivision by Jamie Watt of Hunter Ridge, LLC has since expired with the county and Watt planned to start over with the county, hoping to have Water & San’s consideration before the full, five-person board. The June 14 meeting’s purpose was to determine if the property is not capable of being annexed to the town, which would waive the requirements of Section 6.3.4 of the district’s rules and regulations and allow inclusion into the district.

According to the town, they previously denied annexation of Watt’s project based on concerns regarding slope stability and lack of need for such a development at the time. In a letter to the board, mayor Janet Farmer said, “the council suggests that the property itself is capable of being annexed to the Town and that the Town is not generally opposed to annexation, however, neither the project previously submitted for annexation, nor the project being proposed to the District at this time, is one the Town would be interested in annexing.”

Watt argued that the town prejudged the project. “The only roadblock has been political,” he said. “I did the proper procedure to approach the town, I went through the planning commission, the council voted me down 6-1…I’m not threatening to go to the county, I had to make the next step,” said Watt.

“Why should the board be interested in granting this wavier? The answer is so you can control your water and sewer resources on property that is right adjacent to your district,” said Mike Dawson, representing Watt. “It makes sense from an engineering perspective, it makes sense from a planning perspective…so you can control what goes in next to your district.”

Several neighbors spoke up during public comment, asking that the board deny the waiver for inclusion. “Rather than work with the town and negotiate on the development and address the town’s concerns, Mr. Watt wants to develop what he wants regardless of what the town wants,” said Nancy Grindlay. “This is exactly what the provisions of rule 6.3.4 were intended to avoid. It will be reaching beyond the district’s mandate of providing water and sanitation and will now be determining land use regulation.”

“There is a fear that if we don’t include this project that it will then go to the county,” said board member Nicholas Kempin, who also serves on the town council but has recused himself from related discussions during town council meetings. “Are we worried that the county would approve something that would be bad for the health and safety of our neighbors and ourselves?…There’s no guarantee the county would approve it, there’s no guarantee there will be water when digging a well.”

“If nothing has changed we would ask Mr. Watt to go back to the town and then follow procedure with us,” said board member JD Crichton.

“To me it looks like it’s not annexable. I’m really struggling with this,” said board member Brian Brown. “The town of Mt. Crested Butte has denied that annexation. I personally think 6.3.4 is written the way it is to allow the district to control what’s going on. It’s my opinion that the property is not annexable at this time.”

“The project may have been objectionable to the town but the property is still capable of being annexed with a different project laid on top of it perhaps,” said board member Nancy Woolf. “We already made our decision here at the Water & San board and the fact that he’s coming back with exactly the same facts is undermining the legitimacy of our last decision. I still find the argument that it is capable of being annexed to be a worthy argument.”

“I address the board and the concerned citizens that we will have a plan,” said district manager Mike Fabbre, regarding how the district will prepare for Hunter Ridge if it does come online. “We will be proactive and will be making changes no matter what decision is made tonight.”

The board voted 3-2 to deny the petition waiver, with Woolf, Kempin and Crichton against waiving, and board member Jonathan Ferrell and Brown in favor of waiving for inclusion.

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