Routt County officials are a step closer to pursuing negotiations on an alternate piece of land on which to build the new water treatment plant in Phippsburg.
Michael Zopf, director of the county's department of environmental health, presented a plan to Routt County planning commissioners Thursday to buy a 0.4-acre parcel of land from Phippsburg residents for the plant, instead of buying land from Union Pacific Railroad.
After asking Zopf a few questions, planning commissioners recommended the permit for the alternate site be approved. Routt County commissioners will make the final decision Nov. 10.
Routt County received a grant of $300,000 and a loan of $131,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the project to bring the water facility up to state standards.
Phippsburg's current facility can disinfect water and control corrosion, but under the Colorado Safe Drinking Water Regulations, the water also should be filtrated. The treatment plant was built in 1980 and does not have enough space for filtration equipment, so a new building is necessary.
Building on the alternate site has several advantages over the original site, Zopf told planning commissioners.
Those reasons include that wetlands would not be disturbed, there would be better access to the plant, and the county would not need to pay a yearly easement fee of $500 to the railroad.
Another benefit is that the owners of the pieces of land that would be combined for the alternate site -- Ray and Louise Iacovetto, and their son Elvis Iacovetto -- are ready to negotiate with the county to help a successful sale happen, Zopf said.
Negotiations with the railroad have taken longer than the county hoped they would, he said.
"We've been going through this process for about two years now, and we don't have a definite committment from them," Zopf said.
"This alternate site is really a better site in my opinion."
County planning commissioners asked Zopf if the appearance of the building could be softened to look more residential, and Zopf said efforts to make the building fit in would be made.
Originally, the county thought the lot could be 0.2 acres, but because of required setbacks, that size increased to 0.4 acres.
The county is working to build the project as quickly as possible, but construction has been delayed because bids came in higher than expected and because of the time it has taken for the county to try to obtain land on which to build.
The 60-day period in which low-bidder Precision Excavating's estimated costs are good has run out, he said. With increased water rates in Phippsburg to help pay for the project, Zopf said residents are ready to see work take place.
"We're anxious to build the project -- to beat the weather and show the community they're paying for something," Zopf said.
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