City, developers make deal

City agrees to share cost of culvert with developers

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The City Council and a developer of a 19-unit townhome project struck a deal in the middle of Tuesday's council meeting.

The council approved plans for Sundance Creek -- the 19-unit townhome building at the intersection of Anglers Drive and Rollingstone Lane -- but not before a lengthy discussion on who should pay for upgrading an impacted drainage system.

At Tuesday's meeting, the city agreed to pay 75 percent of the cost of upgrading the drainage system if the developers agreed to pay for the improvements up front.

The added development would push an already maximized culvert, which runs under U.S. Highway 40, over the limit, city staff said. In his report to the council, Planner Tom Leeson said the developers could wait to build until the city or Colorado Department of Transportation expanded the culvert to meet existing needs or the developer could pay for the full cost of replacing it.

The city did not have the culvert improvement in its capital improvement plan, and Leeson noted the city did not have a pressing need to make such an upgrade. City Director of Public Works Jim Weber also noted CDOT has little incentive for making the upgrade and considered drainage issues to be local responsibilities.

But developer Charles Sher said past city and CDOT mistakes had led to the overused culvert and that it was not fair for his project to bear the costs.

"My project, Sundance Creek Condominium, will contribute very small additional amounts of water to the drainage. This drainage problem has existed basically for about 12 years," Sher said.

The developer's engineer, Erik Griepentrog, told the council that in 1977, CDOT replaced a 48-inch culvert with two 24-inch culverts. The one 24-inch culvert in question became overused with the city's decision in 1992 to allow McDonald's to redirect water into the culvert.

Even without additional development, Griepentrog said the culvert would not meet the demand of a 100-year storm.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich told the council if it approved the plan with the condition that the developer replace the culvert and the developer disagreed with that condition, the city could face a lawsuit.

Ultimately, the council decided the developer should front the cost of upgrading the culvert from a 24-inch pipe to a 42-inch pipe. The city then would reimburse the developer for the city's share of the costs. Replacing the pipe has been estimated at $55,000, Griepentrog said.

Sundance Creek, Sundance North, a portion of Sundance at Fish Creek and three undeveloped single-family lots make up the drainage basin.

Jim Larson, who is in the process of bringing plans before the city for the Sundance North project, said he would share in Sher's burden of replacing the culvert.

Larson said the anticipated impact from the two developments would be about 14 percent of the total drainage into the culvert. He suggested that the developers' cost be 14 percent of the total cost of replacing the culvert.

City Manager Paul Hughes said that amount was too low and that he would be comfortable splitting the cost with the developers 50/50.

Larson said that was too high and suggested having the developers pay 25 percent and the city 75 percent, with the developers fronting the cost and the city paying it share in 2005.

The city accepted.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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