Water almost works for Wal-Mart, The Home Depot | VailDaily.com

Water almost works for Wal-Mart, The Home Depot

Matt Zalaznick

But then, as lawyers were tinkering with a few final alterations, yet another snag stalled the contract, said Dennis Gelvin, general manager of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

“We thought we were pretty close,” Gelvin said Friday. “I’ve been informed it’s not acceptable. For the time being, we’re not able to provide water service to the people that are on the site.”

A deal endorsed by the Water Authority was sent to Traer Creek, whose lawyers apparently made some changes that weren’t acceptable to the agency, Gelvin said.

For now, there are no shoppers or homeowners at the Village at Avon. The only people at the sprawling site between Interstate 70 and Eaglebend Drive are developers, engineers and construction workers. The two big box stores are not scheduled to open until next spring at the earliest.

A provision of the deal that hasn’t been in doubt is a so-called “augmentation plan’ in which Village at Avon developer Traer Creek has agreed to return to local supplies the total amount of water used by the shops and homes in its complex. But a dispute over who would hold water rights in a natural disaster and what reservoirs Traer Creek will use to replenish local supplies sank the first attempt at a lease between Avon, the developer and the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority.

The town of Avon, which endorsed the first version last month, approved the revised deal on Tuesday, says Avon Town Council Mac McDevitt.

“There’s enough water for Traer Creek. There’s enough water in the augmentation plan to well satisfy even the future build out of the Village at Avon,” McDevitt says.

Excluding The Home Depot and Wal-Mart set to open next summer, that “build out’ includes approximately 300,000 square feet of additional commercial space and up to 2,400 homes to be built over the next 20 years. The complex will also comprise its own Interstate 70 interchange, parks and, potentially, a school.

Approximately 240 homes are already under construction in the Buffalo Ridge affordable apartment complex on the north side of Interstate 70. approximately 250 more affordable apartments are scheduled to be built.

In the proposed deal, the Village at Avon will lease its water rights to Avon, which will then sublease them to the Water Authority.

The first version stalled over Traer Creek’s desire to use water from Eagle Park reservoir, which the water authority only uses during dry spells, such as the drought that began this summer.

“We absolutely want them to have some Eagle Park water,” Gelvin said. “The difference may be that they want to use Eagle Park on a regular basis when Eagle Park is designed to be used in dry and below normal water years.”

There also has been a legal snag over what would happen to the water rights if the Water Authority couldn’t provide service.

In the first version, if a natural disaster or catastrophe such as a terrorist attack prevented the Water Authority from providing water, the water rights defaulted all the way back to Traer Creek, though Avon would be responsible for providing water to the sprawling development.

In the revised, almost-approved draft, the rights would first default to the town of Avon.

“If Avon can’t do it, which it couldn’t, the rights would go to Traer Creek,

which means one of us would have to build a water plant, which wouldn’t happen overnight,” McDevitt says.

At a meeting in Avon last month, the developers appeared frustrated with the Water Authority.

“We intend to fulfill our obligations,” said Rick Johnson, who works with Traer Creek. “There have been delays imposed on the project by the (water) authority. Further delays on providing water service will have an economic impact on the project.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

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