Minturn resolves issues involving three different developments in one meeting

Developers of the proposed Minturn North project received approval of their final plat on Wednesday. The project calls for 39 single-family homes north of downtown.
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The Minturn Town Council approved the Minturn North development on Wednesday in a move that could also help spur a settlement in a lawsuit involving another development known as Belden Place.

After approving Minturn North and voting in favor of settling the Belden Place development, the Town Council also moved to dissolve the town’s General Improvement District. The district is no longer needed, town officials said, following another settlement agreement, involving another group of builders — known as the Battle Mountain developers — which was approved in September.

Town Attorney Mike Sawyer said the Belden Place settlement and the Battle Mountain settlement are similar in that they’re both dependent on future events.

“We’re not settling as of the day the agreement is signed, rather we’re putting in place a process by which certain approvals could or could not be granted,” he said.

The issues surrounding much of the litigation involve water, and the town’s limited ability to provide new taps for incoming development.

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With Minturn North’s final plat in place following Wednesday’s approvals, the town now knows exactly how many taps that project will require, allowing Belden Place to file an application for the remaining taps.

“Specifically, Belden would have the opportunity to file an application to be heard by this council to have 16 (single-family equivalent homes) of water service that have been determined unneeded by the Minturn North development,” Sawyer said.

The litigation with Belden Place stemmed from “a disputed interpretation of whether the town conducted a public hearing on a request for additional taps to be allocated to the Belden Place PUD back in 2022,” Sawyer said Wednesday. “The parties have filed various motions with the court, the town has obtained some relief to its benefit, but it is undeniable that the litigation remains and that additional work would definitely need to be done to carry this litigation forward.”

Minturn currently has a moratorium in place for the allocation of water taps for new-build construction projects requiring more than three single-family equivalents.

The moratorium has been deemed necessary by the town, which claims that additional water supplies can’t be made available without risking potential water usage curtailment in times of shortage. The halt on new taps commenced in April 2020, with the moratorium language itself referencing Minturn North, which had already submitted an application at that time.

Belden Place is seeking to build 42 units near the 1200 block of Main Street, and in its original complaint, alleged that the town and Minturn North “promulgated the water moratorium together to the exclusion of other, similarly situated parties” and the moratorium prioritizes Minturn North’s needs over those of Belden Place.

The Minturn North development, located north of downtown and east of the Eagle River, calls for the platting of 39 lots, each requiring one water tap for a single-family equivalent home, which would allow enough water for developers to build a 3,000-square-foot home with 2,000 square feet of lawn and garden.

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If a lot owner wanted to build a bigger home than the 3,000-square-foot allowance, they would need to apply for an additional tap. Fourteen of those additional taps will be offered to the developers for the next 2 years, under the development plan approved on Wednesday.

“If someone came in and said ‘I want a 6,000 square-foot house,’ which is permissible under the zoning, they would pay incremental SFE costs for that, but they would not be able to irrigate any more property,” Sawyer said. “This agreement locks into place that the maximum amount of irrigation that can occur on a lot is 2,000 square feet.”

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