Town of Eagle exceeding authority in approving developments, building water plant (letter)
February 15, 2018
In my mind, the Eagle Lower Water Treatment Plant is a done deal. As the town attorney explained, the developers have a vested interest and to deny them would result in expensive lawsuits. That being said, Eagle homeowners have a "vested interest" and are curious as to why it's necessary.
In the Land Use and Development Code of the Eagle Municipal Code under Section 4.14.070: Effect and Expiration of Determination of Adequacy (essentially, that there are adequate water, sewer, fire, schools, emergency medical, police, roads to support the plan): "No application for Subdivision Final Plat approval, Planned Unit Development Plan approval, Development Permit approval or Special Use Permit approval shall be granted unless a positive Determination of Adequacy or a positive Determination of Adequacy subject to conditions has been made by the town."
The town recognized in 2007 that a new water-treatment plant was in the offing. Despite this knowledge, the town has approved more than 1,200 dwelling units (confirmed in an email from the town titled "Approved Development Draft," Oct. 13, 2017) knowing it did not have the water to support these units. The Will Rogers adage applies, "If you find yourself in a hole — stop digging."
The town violated its own code in approving these units without adequate water to service them. I presume that the town was relying on Eagle River Station to provide the commercial growth to pay for the residential growth. But that didn't happen.
Surprise, surprise: Residential development has never paid for the all the services it requires. The state of Colorado has a projected growth rate of 3.4 percent for Eagle. Using the Rule of 70, the town will double in 20.6 years. We currently have 2,600 water accounts. In 20 years, we are projected to have 5,200.
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• 20 years: 5,200 accounts using 7.4 million gallons per day
With the new water plant, the total capacity will be 6.2 million gallons per day, a shortage of 1.2 million gallons per day. But the town is required to start planning for a new plant at 85 percent, so this will occur well before 20 years.
A 3.4 percent growth rate can be disputed, but the fact is the town of Eagle has already approved, but not built, 1,200 residential units, which they have exceeded their authority to do so and have done a disservice to Eagle residents. Is the town going to continue approving new developments again, making the existing residents pay for new developments?
The residents of Eagle voted on the sewer plant when it was built. A vote was taken on the water park for 5 million. None will be taken on the water plant for $28 million? The magic of calling it a fee and not a tax.
When the residents receive their water bills and start conserving water more than expected (this happened in Denver) and the town receives less revenue, will the town again raise the surcharges to pay for the loan?