Hayden Hayden town officials will proceed with condemnation procedures on a piece of private property if they aren't able to secure a deal with the Colorado Department of Transportation to install a water line in a section of downtown.
Town Board officials came to that conclusion Thursday night while trying to solve a problem that has plagued several town businesses since June, when a water pipe broke underneath the Precision Excavating building at Jefferson Avenue and Chestnut Street.
A valve was closed to take care of the leak, but doing so cut off the water supply to four businesses east of Precision Excavating.
Because the pipe is a service line, it is not the town's responsibility to make the repair, but town officials feel it is their obligation to make sure the businesses have access to the town's water mains.
Steamboat Springs resident Lauren Dobell owns a piece of land on which town officials want to install a new water line. But Dobell and the town can't agree on a compromise.
"It's gotten to the point where I've been on the phone literally begging Ms. Dobell," Town Manager Russ Martin said during Thursday night's Town Board meeting.
The affected businesses essentially are landlocked, and the only ways they can access the water main is through U.S. Highway 40 or through the piece of land owned by Dobell. Dobell has offered to sell the narrow stretch of land to the businesses for $35,000. The business owners do not want to pay that.
"It isn't just about money," Dobell said in a telephone interview Friday. "It's was about them putting the detriment on me for the future."
She said she is concerned that installing a the water line on her land would limit her uses for the property in the future.
"Some day I'm going to have this huge problem," she said.
Town officials are optimistic CDOT will allow them to bury a 2-inch line under the gutter of the highway.
"I want them to be successful and put it in the Highway 40 right-of-way, where it should have been first of all," Dobell said.
The businesses could then tap into that line. Although the town is helping mediate the situation, the businesses will be responsible for all costs, including the costs of potential condemnation.
The Town Board voted 3-1 to proceed with condemnation if CDOT does not grant the permit. Richard Bush was the only trustee to vote against it. He said he thought the town should consider purchasing the land for an alley. He also said the condemnation process could get ugly.
"If we assume it, then it's ours," Bush said. "Then we don't have to go and be ugly about the whole thing. To me it's just putting more gasoline on the fire."
Martin was asked by trustee Ken Gibbon whether he though Dobell was being a "fair neighbor."
"Lauren has had issues in the past with the town that she hasn't been able to get over, and I think that has skewed her ability to work through this problem," Martin said.
He added that Dobell's idea of being a good neighbor is "asking for $35,000."
Dobell acknowledged that she has had disagreements with the town in the past regarding property, but she thinks she is being fair and accessible.
"I think I've bent over backwards," she said. "I've met with them. My concern is that they never respond in writing."
- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org