Sewer board offers a few hardship hookups
The Basalt Sanitation District eased the minds of some nervous builders last night by announcing it has probably found a way to temporarily lift a moratorium on sewer hookups.
While the moratorium will officially stay in place, district officials said they have discovered as many as 50 additional “taps” that can be sold to applicants who qualify as hardship cases.
The sanitation district’s board of directors last night approved guidelines on what qualifies as a hardship and announced they will start holding hearings on applications Feb. 10.
The move was applauded by roughly a dozen people who are caught in the crossfire of a bigger battle over midvalley sewage service.
Some of those bystanders are couples who want to build a single-family home or a business in Basalt and a handful are owners of larger projects. None of them can break ground because the district placed a moratorium on sales of taps Dec. 9.
The town of Basalt won’t issue building permits unless a builder possesses a sewer tap.
Some audience members at the sanitation board’s meeting were blaming both that board and the Town Council for their predicament.
Peter Frey, who hoped to start building a home this month in Basalt, questioned why the sanitation district committed its services and why the Town Council approved new developments such as the Southside subdivision and the Roaring Fork Golf Club if adequate infrastructure wasn’t available.
He noted that he owns a lot that’s existed for about 15 years and has been approved for a home. Property like his should be assured of sewage service, he charged.
But sanitation district board members countered that they weren’t guilty of over-committing for service. “In a normal process, we could fulfill all our requirements,” said board member Jerry Terwilliger.
The district’s proposal to double the capacity of its sewage treatment plant has become a political football. Several agencies are using the process to try to force the district to extend service to the Lazy Glen Mobile Home Park east of Basalt.
Sanitation district board president Clay Crossland said his board was trying to protect its constituents from footing the $2.2 million bill for extending that service “and in the process we are being penalized,” he said.
The district has $2.8 million ready for construction. Officials had anticipated breaking ground last October, according to Crossland. Then the plant expansion got held up by the Lazy Glen issue.
The Eagle County planning staff and planning commission for the Roaring Fork Valley have both advised the Eagle County commissioners to reject approvals for the plant expansion. Pitkin County has advised approval, as long as service is extended to Lazy Glen. The Basalt Town Council hasn’t taken a position – much to the chagrin of the sanitation district board.
“It’s saying you’re against this district expanding this plant,” Crossland claimed. “I think that pleading that you haven’t had time to make an informed decision is quite weak, in my eyes.”
Several audience members who have been affected by the sewer tap moratorium also expressed frustration that the Town Council isn’t lobbying Eagle County to approve the plant expansion. The county commissioners’ hearing on the plant proposal will be Monday, Jan. 25, at 3 p.m. at the courthouse in Eagle.
Crossland urged the citizens who are waiting on sewer taps to help convince the county commissioners to approve the plant expansion.
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