ERIC JAMES HEIL, ESQ., A.I.C.P.
Rico Board of Trustees
P.O. Box 56
Rico, CO 81332
RE: Attorney Report for June
This is my attorney report for the June town board meeting.
Worksessions: I believe it is time to suggest the Town Board consider scheduling monthly worksessions. I understand the time commitment of additional meetings, but I believe the level of business activity has increased to the point of warranting consideration of an additional monthly meeting. Worksessions can be very valuable to focus on policy decisions and have everyone review direction together (i.e. getting on the same page). With all the large projects that are pending I believe a monthly worksession would be very beneficial. I would suggest the last Wednesday of the month as a regular worksession date. While the addition of a regular monthly meeting date may be an additional burden, I believe it is inevitable. In fact, I believe in the not too distant future (like a couple years when sewer is in and development applications are being submitted) two regular Town Board meetings and two regular worksessions will be required.
Sewer: The Town Board conducted a special meeting on May 24th and directed staff to proceed with the study of sewer sites. I have contacted Mike Hannigan of RG Consulting and Chris Wilber of Wilber Engineering to direct them to proceed with studies. Mr. Hannigan will review the cost to extend collection lines to the three alternate study sites as well as analyze topography in relationship to gravity collection to the Sundial site. Maggie Love of Love Appraisals is meeting with me this Wednesday to walk the Pasadena Reduction Tract site. Finally, I have spoken with Malcom Murray of Gorsuch Kirgis, LLC., in Denver to request the preparation of a memo regarding the condemnation process and legal cost estimates. I have requested all consultants to have work product available by mid July.
I suggest that we plan for another community meeting in mid-August to discuss the results of the additional studies on alternative potential sewer sites. This timeframe would allow consultants to complete their studies and for Ashton and I to prepare for the meeting.
Sundial: Since the May 24th meeting we have received a message from Keith Lindauer that he is no longer interested in the Town studying the Sundial Site. However, the Town Board did direct additional studies and there are benefits to performing the additional studies in a complete manner.
PRT: Regarding the Pasadena Reduction Tract site I have been working with Reagan Willimann to understand survey discrepancies. The “Pasadena Reduction Tract” is actually portions of a couple mining claims which were subdivided by Rico Renaissance in 1995. The survey and legal description of the property by Fred Thomas is not accurate according Mr. Willimann, and the PRT property (portions on the east side of the Dolores River) was subdivided without Town approval. Ramon Escure has directed Mr. William to prepare accurate legal descriptions and surveys of the property as it was intended to be established. These corrections will be at Renaissance’s cost and not the Town’s. Regardless of these discrepancies, the developable portion of the property (i.e. the meadow) is approximately 4 acres while the remainder of the 7 acre property is river channel and wetlands. I don’t anticipate a major issue with this survey error, just additional work to correct something done improperly.
North Cemetery: I walked the “North Cemetery” area with Ramon Escure. It appears that the actual south boundary of Town may be farther south than previously thought (Mr. Willimann has indicated that many mining claims from West Rico to the south may be 150’ further south). Rico Renaissance has directed Mr. Willimann to survey the southern most mining claim in the Town of Rico which is owned by Rico Renaissance. If the south boundary is actually as far south as it appears, then the North Cemetery site would not involve acquisition of forest service land. Also, Rico Renaissance has indicated that they would donate this site. Therefore, with only wetland issues (which are hardly insignificant) outstanding the North Cemetery Site may be attractive due to the cost (i.e. a donated sewer site may save $500,000.00).
DWCD Water User Agreement: The DWCD petition form and information letter is ready to go out to all property owners. It appears that there are 360 property owners, so the 5% minimum property owners that must sign the petition is approximately 18 to 20 separate property owners. Town Board members could help this process by (1) signing the petition themselves, and (2) calling or talking to other property owners to remind them to consider signing the petition. It would be really nice to implement this petition process and join DWCD. This really needs to happen before the Town can seriously pursue changing the point of diversion to the Dolores River and secure a superior water supply. When discussing the DWCD petition with citizens and property owners, you should remember that DWCD did not sue the Town during the last two years because we were negotiating to join the District and because we entered into temporary water user agreements. People in Rico may be under the mistaken belief that we have been successfully ignoring the issue and could continue ignoring the issue successfully in the future.
I would like the Town Board’s approval to prepare and submit a grant application to Southwest Water Conservation District for grant funding related to legal and engineering costs associated with changing the point of diversion to the Dolores River.
EPA-ARCO: I have prepared additional information to submit to the EPA. Most recently, I received a motion from the EPA asking the District Court to not act on the Motion to Approve the Consent Decrees in light of the evidence received on the value of the mining claims owned by the Estate of Wayne Webster. The EPA had relied on a letter from Patsy Engel to Wayne Webster stating that the property did not have value because of environmental considerations (EPA did not disclose this letter until the Judge order them to). Patsy stated that Mr. Webster had requested the letter and that the EPA was using it inappropriately. Patsy provided a new letter refuting the prior letter and use of it to claim that the Webster properties have no value. This letter along with other realtor letters from Barb Turrin and Keith Lindauer and with an affidavit from Doug Robotham, TPL, about the value of mining claims appears to be enough for the EPA to give more consideration to the issue of the value of property.
On behalf of the Town, I have represented that the Town would remove its objections if the property owned by the Estate of Wayne Webster were transferred to a responsible and appropriate entity for environmental management (i.e. the proposed non-profit). So, hopefully, this opportunity may come up soon. I believe it is about time to re-focus on the St. Louis Tunnel and the proposed non-profit corporation.
ARCO – Rico Soils VCUP: I have worked with ARCO to refine the properties for sampling and get out the Access Agreements. The Access Agreements should be mailed out this week. Another Blood Testing event has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 29th, 2004, at the Rico Elementary School from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. I have provided copies of documents to Forsgren Associates. Their representatives are planning to meet in Rico this Wednesday.
CWCB: I spoke with Robert Krehbiel of Matrix Design Group (who has been funded by CWCB) to determine the direction of their studies. Mr. Krehbiel was meeting with the EPA to discuss focusing on removing the settling ponds north of Town. I encouraged Mr. Krehbiel to expand their focus to the entire river corridor from the proposed point of diversion for Town water on the Dolores River to the south boundary of Town. I also expressed the importance of a comprehensive technical information in a format that can be used for various grant applications for river corridor restoration and enhancement programs.
USGS Stream Gauging: USGS is discontinuing the stream gauging south of Rico, but ARCO has offered to continue paying for stream gauging. It is important to have stream flow data so I believe stream gauging is important to continue. I am following up on the logistics of this, but I understand that some agreement between Town, USGS and ARCO would be required.
Rico Regional Master Plan Update: The revised Rico Regional Master Plan is now on the Town’s website in PDF format (thanks to Judy Schaefer). The Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on June 29th to consider making a recommendation on the document. While other changes or refinements may be desired, it would be good to adopt the Plan so that the updated document can be used for financing applications and work with consultants (which is already happening).
Rico Renaissance: Rico Renaissance has indicated that they have not completed Sam Patch due to discussions with potential developers of the Ute Trail subdivision area (planned 20 home development between West Rico and Piedmont). Renaissance has submitted minor subdivision applications to correct illegal subdivisions for the Warner K. Patrick and Elliot/Tract C area. Renaissance has also indicated that they desire to pursue a 3 home site subdivision in the Hancock Street area (south of the Reeser’s house).
Joe Dort – Colorado Bell Claim (Rico Ball Park): No progress. I hope to forward letters to the Forest Service and schedule a meeting this week to discuss potential public access to this area this summer.
Downtown Development Authority: No progress. Ashton has requested a work proposal which I am preparing. I hope to have the Blight Report prepared for the July Town Board meeting. Adoption of the Blight Report and referral of forming the DDA to an election (of those in the DDA area) should occur by ordinance, so a tentative election could be scheduled in late September. Note that the voting pool for the DDA area is limited to residents and property owners in the DDA area. I would like to pursue revitalizing the business info and web-links with the annual fee.
San Juan Skyway: I attended meetings in Cortez and Durango regarding the San Juan Skyway project. Mark Larson and Jim Isgar attended both meetings also and they have been very supportive of this project. The Colorado State Parks agency organized the meeting in Durango. At this meeting Diane Gansauer announced that GOCO staff is recommending that the San Juan Skyway project be invited to submit a full grant proposal for their legacy projects, which is the large scale funding projects. GOCO is inviting 15 large scale regional project to submit full grant funding proposals. Right now, GOCO’s draft budget for next year would allocate $60 million statewide for large scale projects. This is significant good news (because money is what makes ideas reality!).
I spoke with Jane Hamilton of Colorado Conservation Trust (“CCT”) who was interested in gathering land conservation goals and needs for the Towns of Rico and Ophir. Ms. Hamilton stated that CCT might be interested in providing planning capacity funding, so I plan to submit a proposal within a week. In following a recent Open Space Planning project in which I participated in Ophir, I think the next steps for Rico would be to conduct a questionnaire survey of residents and property owners in the Rico Valley area to determine Open Space preferences. Updated, detailed maps indicating all property ownership of mining claims in the Rico Valley area should be complete within a week along with a list of sales of mining claims.
County/School Study Committee: Nothing new to report.
Piedmont: Block A (west side) corrections are complete. Block B still presents issues. See separate memo on this subject.
SMPA Franchise Agreement: Please see separate memo and proposed Franchise Agreement.
E-Mail Policies: I hope to have a draft available to provide at Wednesday’s meeting.
Eric James Heil
Cc: Ashton Harrison, Town Manager
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