Minturn sends notice of default to Battle Mountain developers
Group wants to build homes in Minturn, but town says past obligations must be settled first
A notice of default has been sent to the entities which comprise the group known in Minturn as Battle Mountain, alleging obligations due and asking for cure in two to four weeks. Companies which received the Aug. 26 letter include Battle One Developer, Battle Two Developer, Battle North, Battle South, Ginn Development Company and the Ginn Companies.
The Battle Mountain entities have long sought to develop the Minturn area in an issue that dates back to a 2008 voter-approved plan for 1,700 high-end homes which today, Battle Mountain spokesperson Kristin Kenney Williams said in July, “looks completely out of character with Minturn’s values.”
Williams said the Battle Mountain entities are now looking to create a neighborhood extension of Minturn, featuring a variety of community housing, trail connectivity, recreation and open space.
But the town of Minturn says the developer must first meet a few obligations, both monetary and non-monetary, which the town believes are due.
Bolts Lake in focus
Among the most important non-monetary obligations is an easement of the Bolts Lake Reservoir area to the town. Town Attorney Mike Sawyer told the Minturn Town Council on Sept. 1 that he believes the easement would need to be provided to the town by this week for the cure period to be met.
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“As we know from the presentation of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation made to the town a few meetings ago, they are under contract to buy the land for Bolts Lake Reservoir. And of course conveying the easement as per the longest standing contract, to the town, for the reservoir, is inconsistent with selling the land to Eagle River Water and Sanitation,” Sawyer said. “This is identified as a default — there is a cure period that Battle Mountain has in which to make good on matters that it has defaulted on, I believe that this falls under the two week cure period, because it is a non-monetary matter that Battle Mountain has a obligation to fulfill to the town.”
Williams, in July, said finalizing details for Bolt’s Lake Reservoir is a priority for Battle Mountain.
“The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority are evaluating the feasibility of redeveloping the historic Bolts Lake site at the south end of Minturn as a water supply reservoir,” Williams said. “In February, the district, authority, and Battle North LLC reached an agreement for the district and authority to purchase the Bolts Lake site following a due-diligence period.”
Eagle River Water and Sanitation District previously explained that any such project would be reviewed by multiple entities, including the town of Minturn along with several state and federal agencies.
The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, on its website, provides a short history of Bolts Lake:
“Bolts Lake was originally constructed in the 1890s by Ben Bolt as a freshwater lake for recreational boating and fishing for the local homesteader and mining community. The lake and surrounding property were sold to the Empire Zinc Company in 1917 and areas surrounding the lake were used by the Eagle Mine operation as mine tailings repositories; there is no evidence that mine tailings were ever deposited in the lake. The mine closed in the early 1980s and the surrounding land was placed on the list of Superfund sites in 1986. However, the lake property is not included in the Superfund-regulated area. In the 1990s, the state deemed the dam unsafe and ordered it to be breached. Bolts Lake has remained empty since that time.”
There are many more obligations expected of the developer in the weeks to come, according to the Aug. 26 letter.
The developer was to provide “additional security” equaling “125% of the estimated cost of constructing Bolts Lake reservoir,” but “Battle Mountain has failed to deliver the security.”
The developer was to start “permitting, implementation and subsequent construction of the Town Traffic Improvement Plan pertaining to Main Street improvements,” but “Ginn has failed to start the permitting process and implementation for the Town Traffic Improvement Plan for Main Street.”
The developer is “required to finalize a work schedule that includes target dates for property acquisition, government permits, design and construction of a wastewater treatment plant,” but “Battle Mountain has failed to present and obtain approval for a work schedule as required under the Wastewater Service Agreement.”
The developer “will provide security to Minturn in the amount of 125% of the estimated costs of the Water Treatment Plant, Potable Storage and Town Main,” but “Battle Mountain has filed to provide such security to Minturn.”
Also, not directly involving Minturn, the developer was to “provide to the EPA a performance bond or letter of credit” and “Battle Mountain has failed to deliver the form of security to the Town and to deliver a valid security instrument to EPA.” Sawyer said he is not sure if the EPA is aware that it is owed this performance bond or letter of credit.
And the town is also alleging Battle Mountain stopped making required payments of $15,000 per month to Minturn, stating in the Aug. 26 letter that “Battle Mountain is in default through August 2021 in the amount of $465,000.”
On Sept. 1, Sawyer town the Minturn Town Council that town staff is working on a plan for how to proceed if the alleged obligations from Battle Mountain are not cured.
“We expect to be bringing further information on an enforcement strategy back to you at a near future council meeting,” Sawyer said.