Steamboat Springs A proposed water line from the Yampa River to Walton Creek that would irrigate Catamount's golf course received a recommendation for approval from the Routt County Planning Commis-sion Thursday.
The panel voted 7-1 to recommend that the Board of County Commis-sioners amend Catamount's 1998 special use permit to allow the pipeline. Planning commissioners gave their go-ahead to the proposal, but not without finding fault with the way Catamount went about it.
Planning Commission Chairman Troy Brookshire said if he had known in 1998 that the Catamount developers didn't have the water they needed when they received the permit for the 25-lot development and 90-acre golf course, he might not have supported the project. Other planning commissioners agreed.
"It's a good project, but we don't like to be played with and I think you played with us," Planning Commissioner Fred Nichols said.
Catamount executive vice president Mike Mutter said Catamount continues to try to be a good neighbor.
"We heard what the commissioners said about the misunderstandings of the past. We're sorry that it happened and we'll work hard to make sure we're always clear in the future about our intentions," Mutter said.
Planning Commissioner Doug Baker, who voted against the amendment to allow the waterline, said Catamount "grossly miscalculated" its water needs and said the waterline, which could pull 10 cubic feet per second of water a day from the Yampa River, will hurt the health of the river.
"Ten CFS is around 6.5 million gallons of water per day. That's a tremendous amount of water," Baker said. "I'm concerned that when the Yampa River drops to 70 CFS, it will impact the river."
Catamount officials responded that much of that water will make its way back to the river via Walton Creek.
Several other members of the planning panel said they appreciated the way Catamount addressed their concerns from the last meeting. In February, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of the water line because of concerns that it would be used for domestic water needs, among other reasons.
Catamount officials removed any reference to domestic water use from their application in response to that concern.
Catamount also agreed to enter into an agreement with the county to ensure that no other landowners could tap into the waterline for domestic water use, only for irrigation.
Several Walton Creek water users voiced their support for the water line, saying it will improve irrigation and livestock watering. But Fran Werner, who owns property that the Lake Catamount No. 1 Metropolitan District is condemning a portion of, spoke against the developers and questioned their integrity.
Nick Schoewe, a Catamount director, defended the company's actions.
"From the day we conceived the idea for this pipeline, we never thought it would hurt our neighbors," Schoewe said. "We've done everything possible to make it work for everyone involved."
The Board of County Commissioners is scheduled to review the Catamount waterline request on June 20.
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