All washed up | AspenTimes.com

All washed up

(This letter was originally addressed to Caloia, Houpt and Hamilton, P.C. and the Joint Marble Council/Water Board.)Mary Geiger’s recent certified collection missive neither addressed the issues raised nor the questions posed in my letter dated March 12, 2003, which underscored the inequity of Marble’s assessments of land owners for payment of the $897,000 cost of its new 150,000-gallon water tank.Nonetheless, I have posted herewith, under protest, the $95 plus $12.35 interest for last year’s installment and the $95 for this year’s payment, anticipating that a sufficient number of the some 69 owners deprived of all reasonable use of their land by the Statutory Municipality of Marble will join with me to share the expense of a competent lawyer to settle whether the community’s governing council has exceeded the limited powers granted to it by Colorado statutes.Such counsel also will probe whether Marble area regulations must subject society as a whole to pay the burden of its environmental safeguards – a burden now borne by a relatively few small parcel owners.For the benefit of those 69 disendowed owners, the issues highlighted in my letter of last March 12 were, to wit: – Each owner of an unimproved small parcel, whose holdings have been rendered virtually valueless by zoning and environmental regulations, has been assessed water tank installation costs in an amount equal to those owners whose improved properties carry Gunnison county tax valuations up to 21 times higher. – The joint Marble Council/Water Company asserted in its initial billing Sept. 10, 2002, that the water tank installation should cause annual insurance premiums to drop by 25 percent. “A homeowner paying $500 per year,” the blurb continued, “will save $125 per year.” While that’s a boon to those 80 owners of improved property, it rings hollow to the 69 owners barred from building by government restrictions. The insurance advantage to the “haves” translates into the “have nots” paying for the water tank and the fire protection it affords. – It is incredible to me that Colorado statutes permit the inequitableness evident in Marble’s cost-allocation process. Please cite such enabling legislation (While no such citation was disclosed to me, it seems germane that the recent billing dated Sept. 4, 2003 by the joint Council/ Water Company massaged that: “Property owners with improvements … will pay a fee that is slightly higher than last year,” adding that unimproved properties will see no increase. Neither the “slightly higher” fee now what may have motivated the change was disclosed.) – It is noted that of the existing 80 improved properties, fully one-half of the houses are on parcels smaller than current restrictions permit.Any of the disendowed Marble property owners interested in retaining a competent lawyer to pursue our legal rights may contact me at P.0. Box 1730, Basalt, CO 81621.John WixBasalt

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