Condemnation of land by eminent domain was an option for a new sewer plant site discussed recently by Cedaredge trustees.
Location of Cedaredge's proposed new sewer treatment plant is being evaluated by some town board members with heavy emphasis on local political issues, even at risk of down playing issues of economy and increasing cost to the public.
The trustees, meeting on Feb. 21, discussed using eminent domain proceedings to obtain property located outside of town for the plant, at Highway 65 and Hamilton Road, just south of the county road department shops.
If obtainable, the land would cost the town and its sewer ratepayers more than $250,000 more than using a nearby town-owned location would, according to an engineer's siting study report.
Use of the town-owned location, a 16-acre parcel at the far south end of the Cedaredge Golf Course driving range, is strongly opposed by people who have homes near the golf course.
They have political influence with the town trustees that is being used on this issue. At the trustees' regular Feb. 21 meeting last week, Trustee Nancy Sturgill restated her opposition to the town-owned location saying "there has been too much community push-back on that one." A dozen homeowners from near the golf course attended a town board meeting last fall and objected to using the town-owned site.
Trustee Ray Hanson also reaffirmed his opposition to the location. There hasn't been an official hearing on the issue and none of the other trustees nor the mayor expressed a view.
A total of 12 possible siting options for the sewer plant were evaluated in the engineer's siting study report issued on Feb. 20. The engineer's top recommended site location is the town-owned parcel south of the golf course.
The report states, "The least expensive option is (south of the golf course) because of access, available power, land acquisition is not necessary, and the sewer flows by gravity adjacent to the site."
The engineer's report continues, "Although this site is in proximity to occupied dwellings and on the #10 fairway of the golf course, the new (sewer treatment plant) can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and minimize odors."
In spite of aesthetic enhancements and advanced operations technology of the proposed sewer plant's design, opponents to the engineer's recommended location have expressed concerns about property value impacts from the plant. An analysis of Google Maps images shows the town-owned site is located about 800 feet from the nearest residence and almost totally blocked from view. The Highway 65 location would site the plant directly across the road from 13 residences which, however, are located outside of the town, depriving their owners of political standing with the town board.
At a previous town board meeting, Hanson and others argued that an agreement or town policy statement had at one time been issued reserving the town-owned parcel for golf course use only. Town Administrator Katie Sickles later reported that a search of archives had turned up no documentation of any such agreement.
An "open forum" public meeting suggested by Mayor Pat Means to discuss the sewer plant location has never been scheduled. But the matter has been scheduled for the town board's March 14 work session – meetings that are open to the public but where trustee-only discussions take place.
Introducing the siting study report to trustees last week, Sickles said, "There is no good news at all, really." She went on to explain that of the 12 sewer plant site options all but one (the town-owned parcel) was either determined unsuitable or the private property owners had refused to sell. "We just recently got our last 'no'," she told the trustees.
The property being considered for condemnation by the town has a for-sale sign erected on it advertising a total 415 acres available. The site study report considers only a 16-acre piece that would have to be carved from a much larger, 253-acre parcel. The 16 acres of interest to the town would have highway frontage. The 256 acres is currently owned by the Hawkins Family Partnership LLLP, according to county records.
Sickles said the current town lagoons site, located off of Old Goat Trail Road overlooking Hart's Basin on waste ground with poor access, was originally condemned by the town. Details of that transaction weren't provided.
Sturgill, on Feb. 21, sketched out for her town board colleagues part of the process for proceeding with condemnation of a private owner's property: get an appraisal, draw up an offer, and have it presented to the owners by an attorney.
Cost of the town's proposed new plant was originally estimated at around $3.5 million, has increased substantially. The Highway 65 location is third highest of the 12 options studied at $4.21 million. The town-owned parcel has the lowest "total estimated cost" of the 12 at $3.93 million.
Cedaredge sewer ratepayers have had a total $15 in monthly increases added to their monthly bills as of February – increases tied directly to need for the new sewer plant. The site study report envisages another increase of at least $10 per month on top of that to pay for loans to build the plant.
The Highway 65 site would cost the town almost $12,000 more annually in loan payments over 30 years than the city-owned site would, according to the engineer's report.
The engineer's preliminary calculations yield marginal difference between the two sites in terms of monthly sewer costs to ratepayers over 30 years. Town officials are very hopeful of spreading those costs, along with other costs of the plant, among the state's taxpayers through various grants and other subsidies.blog comments powered by Disqus