FRASER — The Town of Fraser is working through negotiations with the owners of the Byers Peak Ranch property to provide municipal water and sewer services to the planned development.
During the Wednesday, Feb. 5, meeting of the Fraser board of trustees, a draft agreement was presented to the board as well as a short presentation from the property owner’s spokesperson Jack Bestall.
The property’s developers are seeking to have the entire planned development serviced by the town’s water and sewer system as opposed to their original plans to build an independent water and sewer system for the development.
The move to request town water and sewer services comes after possible annexation of the property, which sits directly southwest of the town, was voted down by Fraser voters during the November 2013 election.
After the annexation agreement was voted down, the developer applied to build the property in unincorporated Grand County, for which the county has approved a sketch plan.
Bestall has said that while the move to service the development with the town’s water and sewer system could provide for a future opportunity to annex the property into town, the owners of the property are not interested in hearing discussions regarding annexation at this time and will move forward with building the development in unincorporated Grand County.
Residents of the Fraser Valley opposed the annexation agreement in part due to the portion of the agreement that focused on water and wastewater service for the development.
“I’m really happy to see Byers Peak come back with this service agreement because it addresses some of the problems that were in the annexation agreement,” said Jane Mather, one of the Fraser residents who opposed the annexation agreement and ultimately challenged the agreement and sent it to a vote. “But we want to make sure the additional costs of serving this development doesn’t fall on the residents of Fraser.”
“We are interested in coming to an agreement,” Bestall said. “But we are not interested in raising old arguments.”
The draft service agreement that was presented to the Fraser town board on Wednesday states the town would supply 1,233 single family equivalents, or SFEs, to the development, which would cover the entire planned development.
The agreement also provides for the developer bearing the cost to connect to the town’s water system, including any construction costs to connect to the system.
Proceeding with caution
Residents of the Fraser Valley who wanted to ensure the town would not incur the costs of the connections raised concerns at the Wednesday meeting.
Andy Miller, a resident of Fraser, said he wanted to see further evaluation of the impacts of the increased SFEs as it wasn’t clear if the existing water infrastructure the town has would handle the additional users.
Part of the draft water service agreement allows for the town to use existing water storage at Grand Park ponds to protect the town if senior water-rights holders farther down river were to call for water.
The risk of having a call placed for water downstream by senior water-rights holders is becoming increasingly dangerous as water users downstream are experiencing drought conditions, such as California, which currently has only 12 percent of normal snowpack.
“We have to be prepared for large climate shifts because they are beginning to occur,” Miller said.
Bestall also stated that the developers believe the revenue generated from adding the water taps to serve the proposed development could help reduce or alleviate the Fraser Firming Fee that was imposed on Old Town residents earlier this year. Implementation of fees began the process of ultimately building town water augmentation ponds.
According to Bestall, the town stands to collect a substantial amount of revenue if the agreement were to go through, including nearly $9.5 million in water tap fees and about the same amount in sewer tap fees as well as collection of water usage fees that will be charged to the residents of the new development if the town were to serve the development.
While the agreement is still in draft phase, the town is working toward finalizing the agreement and expects the topic to be highlighted in upcoming town board meetings.
“I anticipate this subject to come up at the next four or five meetings,” said Mayor of Fraser Peggy Smith.
The draft agreement as well as a copy of Bestall’s presentation to the board can be found at the town’s website at frasercolorado.com by clicking on the pull-down menu “government,” to “board of trustees” to “agendas,” to “current board of trustees packet.”
Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334