Lazy Glen trips up county action on Basalt sewer plant
A final decision by Eagle County commissioners on expanding the Basalt Sanitation District’s sewer plant capacity has been put on hold for at least a week while they digest new information from the district.
If commissioners approve the proposed doubling of the plant’s service capacity, they will buck recommendations to deny the application from the Eagle County planning staff, planning commission and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.
But showing a united front of support for the expansion at a meeting Monday in Eagle was a roomful of Basalt residents and developers who decried the hardship of the sanitation district’s December moratorium on new sewer taps. The district, nearly at plant capacity, enacted the freeze on new taps.
The entities opposing the plant expansion don’t dispute the district’s need to expand its facilities to accommodate growth.
Their bone of contention is how – or when – the Lazy Glen mobile home park fits into the picture. Situated outside of the Basalt sanitation district’s current borders, the mobile park relies on its own, outdated wastewater treatment plant. Located in the Roaring Fork River floodplain, it has dumped raw sewage into the river in the past during periods of high runoff.
State and local governmental bodies are pressuring the sanitation district to serve Lazy Glen. According to district representatives, it’s not a question of if, but when.
“The Basalt Sanitation District is ready, willing, and able to extend service to Lazy Glen, but we need to do it in a way that doesn’t present a hardship to our existing customers,” said Jim Lochhead, speaking as the district’s attorney. “The district supports an eventual connection, but it must be done in a fiscally responsible way.”
But the Eagle County planning staff and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) have called on the county to deny expansion unless the district commits to making good on its 25-year old pledge to serve Lazy Glen.
“In 1974, we had a commitment from the Basalt Sanitation District regarding their intention to serve the Lazy Glen area. Now 25 years later we’re at the same point,” said Robert Ray of NWCCOG. “It’s our opinion that unless Lazy Glen is formally incorporated into the approval, it would not occur in a reasonable time frame.”
Relying on the use of an approved $2.7 million bond, the cost of doubling the district’s plant capacity would largely be paid back through the new tap fees. But, according to district engineers, new taps in Lazy Glen would far exceed the usual $3,900 per tap for the trailer park’s 100 units.
The cost of serving Lazy Glen could range from $270,000 to upgrade its existing facilities, $750,000 to replace the existing facility, or up to $2.3 million to extend a pipeline to the development. But considering the state of Lazy Glen’s plant, the latter two alternatives are more likely solutions than a Band-Aid to the existing treatment plant.
“Something does need to be done at Lazy Glen, but even with working with the Roaring Fork Club and the Basalt Sanitation District carrying some fees, there’s still likely to be a $900,000 shortfall,” said Wayne Lorenz, a district engineer. “That’s the heart of the problem. I assure you if the district had the money to do it, we would without any argument.”
The Roaring Fork Club, located between Basalt and Lazy Glen, is already hooked into the district, covering part of the cost of extending a line to the trailer park.
Basalt residents and developers, however, showed up en masse to protest what they said is a neighborhood outside the sanitation district “holding hostage” projects currently within the district’s boundaries.
“I think it’s totally unfair that someone could purchase a lot in an established neighborhood in Basalt but can’t build on it,” said Basalt resident Peter Frey. “We see ourselves as a plane circling an airport wondering if the fuel’s going to last… . No matter how Lazy Glen’s problem is resolved there needs to be an expansion of service.”
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.