Minturn council appoints new mayor, readies complaint in Battle Mountain disagreement
Minturn resident Lynn Feiger is also appointed to Town Council
Longtime council member Earle Bidez was appointed Mayor of Minturn Thursday after serving for years as mayor pro tem. Former Mayor John Widerman, who recently moved to Edwards, was forced to vacate his seat; Widerman’s last meeting was Sept. 15.
Bidez has served on the Minturn Town Council on and off since 1994 and was mayor from 2002 to 2004. He served as mayor pro tem under Widerman, leading the meetings when the mayor was unable to attend. Terry Armistead was named the new mayor pro tem on Wednesday.
The council also appointed Lynn Feiger to fill Bidez’s seat. Feiger is a longtime Minturn resident and attorney who has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America and received the 2012 Mary Lathrop Award from the Colorado Women’s Bar Association.
Bidez’s term will last until the April 5 election, at which time he can seek election as mayor or council member. Feiger will also serve until the April election, at which time she can seek election as mayor or council member as well.
Bidez said upon appointing Feiger, it was important to have her on board in an executive session that followed, during which the town conferred with the town attorney to determine positions in ongoing negotiations with the company known as Battle Mountain. Battle Mountain has been negotiating with the town to amend an annexation agreement affecting a development project the company would like to pursue.
In February, the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and Battle North LLC reached an agreement for the district and authority to purchase the Bolts Lake site following a due-diligence period.
In July, Feiger told the town that she believes Battle Mountain has significant obligations to Minturn, including an easement right in Bolts Lake for water storage, and the town has been lax in enforcing the obligations.
Town Attorney Mike Sawyer has since identified the inconsistency of selling the land and conveying the easement as a default, describing the easement as “a nonmonetary matter that Battle Mountain has an obligation to fulfill to the town.”
Following Wednesday’s executive session, the town council directed staff to immediately perfect the town’s action in the Bolt’s Lake Reservoir Easement and directed the legal counsel to prepare a complaint for violations of the agreements between Battle Mountain and the town of Minturn.
The development group seeking to build homes in Minturn rejected accusations of default from the town of Minturn.
In a letter issued Aug. 31, a law firm representing the Battle Mountain development group said the town’s notice of default is “based on selective references to isolated provisions of the referenced Battle Mountain Agreements” and “makes conclusory assertions of default that are not well-founded factually, legally or contextually.”
The notice of default, issued Aug. 26 by the town’s attorney, said the developer has not paid the town for costs to build a water treatment plant and reservoir at Bolts Lake, among other obligations.
In its response to the town, the law firm representing the developers said: “The Battle Entities intend to move forward on a rational, reasonable, realistic and coherent path if and when Town Council musters the political will to ‘negotiate in good faith to amend the existing Annexation Agreement.’ If the Town is prepared to do so, the Battle Entities remain prepared to resume discussions to complete the objective of amending the existing Annexation Agreement in connection with implementing the Bolts Lake Concept.”
The direction issued Wednesday by the Minturn Town Council also said the town staff and legal counsel “should reach out to Battle Mountain and offer an opportunity to discuss potential resolution of the defaults within the next 28 days.”