Tap fees to increase on new development west of Vail | VailDaily.com

Tap fees to increase on new development west of Vail

Amy Phillips of the Avon Town Council blames Traer Creek for the fee increases

The 2 million gallon Traer Creek water tank is shown in December 2014. The water authority accepted the newly built tank into its system April 1, 2015, but less than two months later, a significant leak was located in the tank.
Eagle River Water and Sanitation District/Special to the Daily

AVON — A fee increase on new development in the midvalley areas serviced by the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority is set to go into effect on September 1 after receiving approval from the Avon Town Council on August 27.

The $710 increase is designed to recoup an average $10,910 per single-family equivalent. Fees were also increased in 2014 to recoup an average of $10,200 per single-family equivalent.

“This increase is attributed to significant capital investment in the water system since the 2014 update,” Jason Cowles with the authority wrote in a memo to the Authority Board of Directors in advance of their August 22 meeting. The Board of Directors approved the new fees at that meeting, and the town of Avon’s approval was the last official action needed to initiate the new fees.

Cowles also told the Avon Town Council that the cost of the demolition and reconstruction of a failed water tank in the Traer Creek area of Avon is included in the increased fees.

Tale of the tank

Completed in 2015, the Traer Creek water tank was supposed to facilitate the development of up to 2,400 homes and 825,000 square feet of commercial space in the area which spans from the current Beaver Creek Rodeo grounds on the west to proposed home sites that are directly north of Dowd Junction.

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Less than two months after the water authority accepted the newly built tank into its system in April of 2015, a leak was located in the tank, caused by soil settlement, and it was determined that the tank needed to be replaced.

The water authority filed suit against the developer, Traer Creek-RP LLC, in District Court, saying the developer was responsible for the repair or replacement of the tank.

The case was settled this year, with the authority receiving $5 million of the estimated $9 to $12 million it will cost to build a new tank.

The authority will attempt to recoup the remaining cost through the tap fee increases approved on Tuesday.

240 apartments coming soon

On Tuesday, Avon Council Member Amy Phillips took the opportunity to blame Traer Creek for the fee increases.

“The general taxpayers, some of which will be the Traer Creek folks, are having an increase in their fees because of the failure of that developer,” Phillips said.

Cowles told the Avon Town Council the tap fees, or water system impact fees, will only be levied on new construction, and constitute a roughly 3 percent increase per year.

“It’s an effort to recoup our investment as new development comes online,” he said.

Phillips said water tank aside, she has been happy to hear construction equipment engines being started at 6:57 a.m. outside her office window near Traer Creek every morning in recent weeks.

“The next time someone says I’m being really hard on Traer Creek because I’m questioning their motives, it is past behavior — not fulfilling their obligations — that bothers me greatly, nothing to do with anything they’re working on now, including the fact that they’re finally moving dirt for a 240-unit apartment complex which is sorely needed,” Phillips said.

A deal closed Aug. 15 for the $6.47 million sale of a 10-acre parcel land from Traer Creek to Avoco Investors LLC, to be used for the new 240-unit apartment complex referenced by Phillips. Construction is expected to start in the coming weeks.

“The remarks from last night’s Avon Town Council meeting are a mischaracterization of a complex construction defect lawsuit that included nine different litigants,” Marcus Lindholm, with Traer Creek, wrote in response to Phillips’ comments. “We are working with the Water Authority on the water tank project and look forward to working with the town of Avon on future endeavors for the benefit of the community.”

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