Main opponent of Battle Mountain negotiations named to Minturn Town Council
Tom Sullivan takes over recently vacated seat in Minturn
The decision to hire outside legal services to examine a 2008 annexation agreement with the Battle Mountain developers in Minturn was made by six elected officials on Wednesday, and one who was appointed.
Tom Sullivan, who on June 16 was an outspoken critic of the Battle Mountain proposal and continued to voice concerns in the weeks to follow, was appointed to the council Wednesday after being one of two applicants for the seat vacated by former Council member Brian Eggleton in June.
Sullivan was a council member in Minturn from 2004 to 2008 and has lived in town since 1990. He received the support of four council members on Wednesday and was sworn in immediately following his interview.
In the interview, Sullivan was honest in his motivations for running.
“I’ve been very disappointed with the current state of negotiations with Battle Mountain,” he said. “I think we’ve been going way too soft on them, I think we’ve been letting them bully us, they owe us a lot of money right now and we should stop negotiating with them until they pay us.”
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Among Sullivan’s major points of contention is that it’s against the town code for town staff to do any work for a developer when that developer is in default. Sullivan said in examining the town’s 2008 water storage escrow agreement, alongside another agreement with developers passed in 2012, the amount of the default could be quite significant, if the town would be willing to make the demands.
“It’s like $16, $17 million bucks,” he said on Wednesday.
With regards to that 2008 agreement, “nobody negotiated harder than I did to get the deal that we did,” he said.
Sullivan said the town would be in “a world of hurt” without the legal advice of local resident Lynn D. Feiger, who pointed out the various ways in which the total on a bill sent to the Battle Mountain developers could reach the $16 to $17 million figure he mentioned.
Some of those line items involve water storage, treatment and distribution by the town, which is another issue being examined by the council in looking to secure enough water to accommodate growth if the town were to increase its housing inventory in the future.
Following Sullivan’s swearing in on Wednesday, Feiger told the council that the developers of the project owe the town a $9 million dollars in water payment, along with an obligation to pay 125 percent of the cost of a water plant.
“I’ve heard it said that the water plant didn’t really give Minturn any rights, that these agreements were just to provide for the needs of Battle Mountain,” Feiger said. “Well that’s not true, if you read the agreements. The agreements recite over and over and over again the town needs a water plant for growth of the town. And they count out how many people beyond the Battle Mountain people would need water, that the town needed to service. And the agreement said it’s critical for the town to get a water treatment plant – it’s critical for the town, not just for Battle Mountain, independent of any Battle Mountain development, it’s critical for us to get a new town main, it’s critical for us to get water storage.”
Sullivan said water is the town’s biggest issue he’s likely to face as a council member.
“Water is tantamount to the town,” he said.