Haymeadow delivers water rights to Eagle
Apparently the notice of default the town of Eagle sent to the developer of the proposed Haymeadow project last month produced the desired effect.
On Jan. 8, attorney Gregory Perkins, representative of Haymeadow developer Abrika Properties, contacted the town to inform officials that a copy of the referenced water deed would be hand delivered to town hall. Additionally, Abrika stated its intention to have documents ready for town board approval concerning lease back of water rights for the property until the time that development begins.
In response to Perkins’ letter, Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney noted that based on receipt of the documents, the notice of default dated Dec. 11 was withdrawn.
“Our point was not to wreck our relationship with the developer, but rather to put them on notice,” said Stavney. “The water rights at Haymeadow are extremely important to the future of the town.” Last spring, Abrika Properties received approval from the Eagle Town Board for the Haymeadow project — a 837-unit residential development property located on a 660-acre parcel just south of the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. Since that approval, town staff has been in ongoing periodic discussions with the Haymeadow development team regarding compliance with the annexation and development agreement. The primary issue of concern was the conveyance of the water rights, which should have occurred immediately following the approval of the metro district service plan on July 22, 2014.
Town officials noted the water rights conveyance would have allowed Eagle to file a change case in water court with at 2014 priority date.
“We look at the water court process as taking many, many years,” said Stavney.
He noted, as illustration, that in 2014, Eagle finalized the water court case involving Eagle Ranch rights deed back in 1998.
He added that the Haymeadow water rights are vitally important to one of the town’s looming, large capital projects — the lower basin water treatment plant planned near the confluence of Brush Creek and the Eagle River.
“Eagle has its own (water rights) work to do. Water court applications must be made,” said Stavney.
In his memo, Perkins states the Abrika representatives have been working with town representatives to finalize the lease back of water rights that is also required by the annexation and development agreement.
“It did not make sense to us to convey the water right until the lease back was final and approved by the town board,” Perkins stated.
However, the town’s position is that the specifics of the water deed provisions, included in the 2014 project approval, reflect the town’s desire to use historic water rights associated with the property while building occurs. That way the Haymeadow pastures will remain green during the phased development.
“The developer is requesting a simple lease back agreement in order to be able to continue historic flood irrigation of the property starting in the spring of 2015 and until a final plat is submitted and development of the property begins. Continued irrigation of the property is a condition of the annexation and development agreement. Drafts of this simple lease document have circulated between town water counsel and the applicant for the past few months, as have requests for the signed deed,” noted Stavney back in December.
Along with the water rights conveyance, the town’s action last month called out two other portions of the Haymeadow annexation and development agreement that have not been fulfilled. One was delivery of the Haymaker Trail easement and the other was conveyance of a school land parcel.
“Failure to deliver the Haymaker Trail easement was unintentional, and was an oversight on my part,” stated Perkins. He provided documentation for town board action this week.
While the town board approved resolutions accepting the water rights conveyance and lease back, members did not approve the trail easement resolution and instructed town staff to work out some additional issues.
Regarding the school land parcel, Abrika is arguing that the conditions of the annexation and development agreement do not require a conveyance yet.
“The school parcel does not exist as a separately subdivided parcel of real estate that can be legally conveyed, and it will not until recording of the first final plat for the Haymeadow subdivision,” stated Perkins.
In response, a Jan. 1 memo from Eagle Town Attorney Ed Sands states, “At the time the annexation and development agreement was entered into, the town assumed that this platting would occur soon after the Planned Unit Development zoning was accomplished. That is apparently not now the case. The town board does not believe it should have to wait year to receive this parcel.”
Sands’ memo suggested this issue would come up for discussion on at the board’s Jan. 13 meeting, but Perkins noted that no Abrika representatives would be present at this week’s town board session.
Mayor Yuri Kostick and town board member Doug Seabury again recused themselves from Tuesday’s Haymeadow discussions.
In November, Kostick and Seabury traveled to Florida to meet with Abrika Properties LLC owner Alan Cohen to discuss issues related to the Haymeadow project. They were accompanied by Scott Schlosser, a real estate associate of Seabury’s who is also the local contact for Haymeadow development team. The two did not inform other town board members of the trip before they left and their actions raised questions regarding compliance with Colorado Amendment 41.
Since their return, Kostick and Seabury have recused themselves from debate surrounding Haymeadow issues. However, on Tuesday night Kostick requested an executive session discussion regarding future recusals.
“When I recused myself, there was a specific issue about water rights,” said Kostick. He noted, however, since that time other Haymeadow issues have come up and because of that initial recusal, he and Seabury did not receive the confidential communications that other town board members received.
“Are you asking if you need to recuse yourself from absolutely everything concerning Haymeadow?” asked town board member Luis Benitez.
“I basically don’t understand my role. How do I recuse myself if I don’t know what I am recusing myself from?” said Kostick.
“I think it would be a serious mistake and would put the town at risk to not recuse yourself and Trustee Seabury from everything regarding Haymeadow right now,” said town board member Anne McKibbin.“The two of you do have a clear conflict with anything that has to do with the Haymeadow, until that time when the conflict goes away. That time is not here yet.”
However, Eagle Town Attorney noted that it is up to individual town board members to voluntarily recuse themselves from deliberations.
“I can’t order that anyone recuse themselves. Other members of the board cannot order that anyone recuse themselves. It has to be a personal decision,” said Sands.
Town Clerk resignation
At Tuesday’s meeting, the board was informed that Eagle Town Clerk Sarah Braucht has submitted her resignation.
When contacted Wednesday, Braucht said that she has accepted a job as camp administrative assistant with Roundup River Ranch.
Braucht has been with the town of Eagle for 8 1/2 years and she has served as town clerk for slightly over one year. Her last day with the town will be Tuesday, Jan. 27.
On Friday, 29-year-old Casey Williamson was among 11 killed when their skydiving plane crashed and burned at a coastal airfield on the island of Oahu. It was the worst civilian aviation accident in the U.S. since 2011.