County panel approves Sundance water system

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— Sundance Ridge Preserve's request for a water supply and treatment center split the Routt County Planning Commission.
The subdivision received a recommendation for approval of a special use permit in a 5-4 vote lsat week, with dissenting commissioners asking for more information about the impact the water system will have on the neighbors in the area.
The land preservation subdivision is planned for land nine miles south of Steamboat and was first approved by the Routt County Board of Commissioners in 1996.
Doug Bradfield, an engineer presenting the proposal at Planning Commission's meeting Thursday, explained that one well was drilled and now he needs permission to build infrastructure to supply water to the 11 houses to be built in the subdivision.
"We found that one well is better than 11," Bradfield said. He said that most homeowners in subdivisions like Sundance don't want the responsibility of maintaining their wells.
Sundance is adjacent to the Blacktail subdivision and the Gay Ranch. A major concern for those property owners was that the "mega well," as landowner Quentin VanTassle called it, could intercept water going to the surrounding wells.
"I'm extremely concerned that the underground water will be taken," rancher Bill Gay said.
He waters livestock with an artesian spring that's fed by an aquifer that the 11 homes will get their water from.
"One single well makes no difference on how much water will be used," Bradfield said.
However, he didn't have numbers on how much water was available in the aquifer and what impact the well would have on the neighbors.
VanTassle, one of a number of Blacktail subdivision property owners with concerns about the project, showed that the Sundance well is directly above his and other neighbors' wells. That could have an impact on water flow.
Gay's nephew, Todd Hagenbaugh, told the Planning Commission that these issues were all brought up in 1996 and were not addressed then.
The Planning Commission agreed that certain actions should be taken to make sure the impact isn't too great for neighbors.
"There should be some sort of hydrology study to take a look at the area," Chairman Troy Brookshire said.
Though other commissioners agreed, the final motion made did not include such a study.
"I don't see the big problem here," Commissioner Doug Baker said.
Instead commissioners required, as a condition of the special use permit, that a baseline pump study be conducted to see if heavy use of the Sundance well affects the nearest neighboring well.
Bradfield said that would be hard to determine because the test results would be different depending on the season and the test would have to be done many times to get a good estimate.
A motion including the baseline test condition passed 5-4, with Commissioners Brookshire, Shelly Baumen, Fred Nichols and Donna Hellyer casting the dissenting votes.
"There's just not enough information," Brookshire said.
He also was concerned that a 10,000-gallon tank proposed for fire suppression wasn't enough water for protection.
"I don't believe we're adequately protecting our neighbors without doing a hydrology study," Baumen said.
Hellyer and Nichols echoed those comments.
Sundance will go in front of the county commissioners for a full approval at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 22. in the courthouse annex hearing room.
In other action at the meeting last Thursday, Connell Resources Inc. received a unanimous vote to recommend approval of an amendment to a special use permit for a gravel mine.
The amendment is to expand the south end of the Jocko Camilletti pit by 11 acres.
That would make the pit 21-acres wide, county planner Alison Willets said.
If approved by the Routt County Board of Commissioners, the expansion would extend the life of the pit until 2010, with reclamation ending a year later.
If it isn't approved, the pit would be closed and reclaimed this year.
The pit is located south of Hayden near the Yampa Valley Regional Airport. There wasn't any opposition to the proposal, Willets said.
Also, two consolidations for lots at the Steamboat Lake Subdivision were recommended for approval.
One was from petitioner David Moss, who is the president of the Steamboat Lake Homeowners Association, to consolidate 22 lots in Filings 2 and 3 into three lots with five acres each. Along with the consolidation, the original utility and drainage easements would be vacated.
The other was for Sable Development, LLC, which has a similar plan to consolidate 35 lots into three, five-acre lots in Filing 7.
Utility and drainage easements would be vacated there, too.
Moss will ask for approval by the county commissioner at 2:30 p.m. Aug. 22 followed by Sable at 3 p.m.

To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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