Minturn files lawsuit against Battle Mountain developers
Town is alleging damages ‘in the tens of millions’
The town of Minturn filed a lawsuit Friday against the Battle Mountain development companies for breach of promises made in exchange for annexation of land into the town boundaries.
The complaint was filed in Eagle County District Court and alleges that the Battle Mountain entities, which seek to build up to 700 units in Minturn, have defaulted on obligations to the town including new infrastructure projects and monetary obligations.
On August 26, 2021, Minturn sent a notice of default to the Battle Mountain entities describing all the town felt it is owed.
According to the town of Minturn’s complaint filed Friday, “After August 26, 2021, the Battle Entities have taken no action to cure any of the defaults listed in the Notice of Default.”
Minturn council member Lynn Feiger said the town did not want to bring the lawsuit forward, but Battle Mountain has been “unwilling to budge” and the town was going to run out of options soon.
“Our statute of limitations was going to run, so it was time,” Feiger said.
Feiger, a longtime Minturn resident who is also an attorney, said part of her motivation for joining the Minturn Town Council stemmed from a fear that the statute of limitations would expire before Minturn saw any action from the developer.
“These were promises that were made not in exchange for development, but in exchange for annexation, and they were all due regardless of development when annexation became final,” Feiger said.
The town says Battle Mountain is obligated, under the agreement, to pay for a new water treatment plant and other new water infrastructure, provide water storage and mediate toxic environmental conditions in the Bolts Lake area, provide funding for a bike trail to Red Cliff, provide funding for a community center, provide funding for the purchase of United States Forest Service parcels of land, and other obligations.
Feiger said the total monetary value of the obligations has not been determined, but is likely to be an eight-figure sum.
“It involves very significant damages,” she said. “In the tens of millions … We’ll have to have damages experts figure out the exact dollars.”
Tim McGuire with Battle Mountain, on Wednesday evening, said the company is evaluating the complaint, and denies liability for the town’s claims.
“Battle Mountain will respond in detail at an appropriate time,” McGuire said.
Minturn Mayor Earle Bidez said the Minturn Town Council has a fiduciary responsibility to uphold the promises of the agreements.
“The developer entered many of those promises knowing they were a condition of annexation and that these promises were not contingent upon the project moving forward,” Bidez said. “As of 2019, the Battle Mountain Annexation has been finalized and those promises are due.”
—This story was edited to include a comment from Battle Mountain