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Battle Mountain project scores water rights

Sarah Mausolf
smausolf@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

MINTURN, Colorado – Developers of a private ski resort on Battle Mountain have obtained key water rights for the project, according to a Wednesday announcement.

“It makes our project a reality for the first time,” said Dave Kleinkopf, a principal for developer Crave Real Estate. “Truly, the significance is huge for our project.”

Developers filed for water rights for the project with the Colorado water court in 2005, he said.



Several parties that use water on the upper Eagle River, including the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, filed as objectors to the case.

Until recently, it had been unclear whether the various interest groups would reach an agreement over the water rights or the case would go to trial in water court. A trial could have put the water rights for the project in jeopardy and would have cost developers a significant amount of money, Kleinkopf said.



Water for the future Battle Mountain project will come from a proposed 1, 210 acre-foot reservoir at Bolts Lake, south of Minturn. An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons. The Eagle River would feed the resevoir.

Kleinkopf said the water rights would enable Crave to build up to 1,700 housing units.

“We anticipate building fewer units than that but right now I can’t give you a definitive number because we’re in the planning process,” he said.



Crave announced in July it was drastically scaling down the project. The old plan would have used two to three times more water, Kleinkopf said. Crave has removed a golf course, hotel and two thirds of the commercial space from the plans, citing the economic downturn and concerns over water rights.

Minturn Mayor Pro Tem George Brodin said the water rights are a positive step.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “They need the development to happen.”

The water rights won’t put the Battle Mountain project on the fast track. Kleinkopf said he still expects construction to start in three to five years.

Developers are working through the approval process with the Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

Water rights for the project came through a settlement signed by the town of Minturn, Battle Mountain, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority, Vail Associates, Inc. and Eagle Park Reservoir Company, along with the Arrowhead, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Eagle-Vail, Edwards, Holland Creek, and Red Sky Ranch metropolitan districts. The settlement pertains to four cases filed with the water court between 2005 and 2007.

“The settlement protects existing water rights and the water quality of the Eagle River, while providing for the development of new water rights to serve the future growth of Minturn and a more limited proposed Battle Mountain development project,” water district Board Chairman Bob Warner said in a press release.

The agreement also granted Minturn water rights for future growth in town, independent from the Battle Mountain project. The water district will give Minturn access to as much as 50 acre-feet of the district’s storage water in either Eagle Park Reservoir or Homestake Reservoir, which are upstream of Minturn.

“As our population grows, this settlement still allows us to have water to provide for our residents,” town manager Jim White said.

Separately, plans for the Battle Mountain ski resort have been in the works for about five years. Florida developer Bobby Ginn bowed out of the project last year. Crave Real Estate, which is tied to Philadelphia-based investment company Lubert-Adler, took control of the project.

Minturn has an agreement with developers to annex 4,300 acres into the town for the project.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at smausolf@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2928.


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