Catamount says water line not for current or future home use

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— Hoping to address concerns over a proposed water line underneath the valley floor south of Steamboat Springs, officials with Catamount Development have resubmitted their application for an amendment to their special use permit.

In February, Routt County planning commissioners voted unanimously to recommend denial of the amendment which would allow a water line from the Yampa River to Walton Creek. The planning commissioners said the request should have been included in Catamount Ranch's original approval.

In 1998, Catamount Ranch was approved for 25 homesites, a 90-acre golf course, a clubhouse and other buildings as well as land set aside in conservation easements. At the time, planning commissioners said they thought the developers had adequate water to meet the demands of the project.

Lake Catamount No. 1 Metropolitan District President Michael Mutter said preliminary water planning was based on different considerations.

"It was not discussed at pre-approval hearings because Catamount had not yet specifically considered a water line," Mutter stated in Catamount's recent application to the county.

Catamount should have done a better job of presenting the facts to the planning commissioners, he added.

"On the one hand, we felt like pretty good citizens because we were taking on a nearly $2 million project that would benefit agricultural lands as well as the golf course and add water to Walton Creek, at no cost to anyone else. On the other, it was really our fault for not realizing that, as many benefits as we think the project has, we have to explain the plans much more clearly," Mutter stated in a press release.

Mutter said the water line raised some questions that he believes are largely based on misunderstandings.

"We believe we have dealt in this application with the concerns we heard the Planning Commission and members of the community express," Mutter stated.

The new application, submitted March 30, clarifies that the water line is not intended for residential use at Catamount Ranch and is not for future development.

"This irrigation line is to protect our $10 million investment in the golf course -- not for any future development at the Ranch or anywhere else," stated Michael Beckley, president and general manager of Catamount Ranch and Club. "We need the line to water the course and agricultural lands; it can also be used to supplement Walton Creek."

A few landowners near Catamount Ranch said they had concerns that the water line might allow pike, a trout predator, to infiltrate Walton Creek.

Catamount's application contains a report from Roy Hugie, a consultant with 30 years experience in natural resources management. Hugie said the water line will have no negative impact on wildlife in the valley or on fish in the Yampa River.

The 18-inch water line from the Yampa River to Walton Creek would be buried at least four feet underneath properties owned by Michael Holloran, Union Pacific Railroad, Fran Werner, Don Lufkin and state highway right-of-ways.

The Planning Commission will review Catamount's water line request on June 1. It is then scheduled for a hearing with the Board of County Commissioners on June 27.



-- To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail mbales@amigo.net

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