City questions annexation

Mount Werner Water wants land but has no plans for service

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The city is questioning why Mount Werner Water wants to annex a 37-acre piece of land with no plans for water and sewer service.

Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District petitioned itself to annex a piece of land just east of the city limits that it purchased in December. It plans to use the property for a second infiltration gallery.

Mount Werner Water will hold a public hearing on the proposed annexation at 9 a.m. Friday at the water treatment plant. The location of the land, just south of the Fairfield Inn, and the district's plans for it will be discussed, Mount Werner Water Manager Bob Stoddard said.

The district wants to build a new infiltration gallery, which is a kind of horizontal well, to provide an alternative to an existing gallery that is threatened by a gasoline leak coming from a Shop 'n' Hop gas station.

In November, the district filed for the water right for the infiltration gallery, which would draw 5 cubic feet per second from the Yampa River and Walton Creek. In December, the district purchased the parcel from the More family.

Stoddard also plans to discuss the Steamboat Springs School District's proposal to purchase 4.8 acres of the parcel. The acreage sits next to the school district's Whistler Park property and is considered a potential site for an elementary school.

The parcel's remaining 32 acres are primarily wetlands, Stoddard said, and do not have much development value.

The district sent a letter to the city asking it to send a representative to the public hearing and asking whether it had any objections, requirements or requests for the annexation.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, council members questioned the district's need to annex the land if it does not intend to provide water and sewer services.

"We don't think it is necessary for them to annex," Councilman Steve Ivancie said.

City Attorney Tony Lettunich said that traditionally the only reason the district would annex property would be to provide the land with water and sewer services. If nobody wants to provide service to that area, Lettunich asked Tuesday why the district would want to annex it.

"The question is (whether) there is something they can do on that property that they can't do if they don't annex it," Lettunich said.

Stoddard said the district feels if it owns the land, it should be part of the district.

Under a 1994 agreement with the city, Mount Werner Water is allowed to annex land without the city's permission, but it must seek approval to provide water and sewer service to any land that was not within its boundaries at that time.

Lettunich said the city could ask the district to annex the land with the condition that it would not attempt to provide services unless approved by the city.

The district's filing for a water right for the infiltration gallery drew criticism from some residents who thought the filing was a pre-emptive strike against the city's filing of a recreational water right on the Yampa River and as a means of growth control.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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