SourceGas sues Colorado Mountain College
May 25, 2012
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The SourceGas natural gas company has filed suit to force Colorado Mountain College (CMC) to allow construction of a compressor station on the college’s Spring Valley campus.
The civil suit, filed Wednesday afternoon in Garfield District Court, asks the court to rule that SourceGas has a valid lease for a five-acre building site on CMC property.
The suit also asks Judge James Boyd to order the college to reauthorize a land-use review process before Garfield County. The process was put on hold March 23 when controversy erupted over the SourceGas plan.
A “judge review” date in the case, which was assigned to Boyd, was set for July 24.
Meanwhile, the CMC Board of Trustees scheduled a special telephone conference meeting for 9 a.m. Friday to discuss the issue.
CMC spokeswoman Debra Crawford, reached Thursday, was unable to provide further information about Friday’s meeting.
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SourceGas has been locked in a dispute with the college for weeks over the lease for the five acres, located northeast and over a ridge from the campus.
The company said the compressor station is needed to boost the flow of natural gas along a pipeline that stretches between Rifle and Avon and serves 40,000 customers, according to the lawsuit. The pipeline crosses CMC property, and SourceGas negotiated a 20-year, $240,000 lease for the five-acre site with the college CEO, Stan Jensen, in August 2011.
But when a development application allowing the facility was approved by the Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission in early March, CMC faculty, students and neighbors in Spring Valley learning about the deal for the first time objected to placing the compressor station on college land.
The uproar led SourceGas to put the development application on hold instead of taking it to the Garfield County commissioners for final approval.
In early April, a second site for the compressor station was proposed near the school’s water tower. A special advisory committee set up by the CMC trustees agreed that, if a compressor station on college land couldn’t be avoided, the second site was acceptable.
But on May 14, the trustees voted to “not recognize” the 2011 lease agreement, and withdrew authorization for the development application before the county.
The suit was officially filed by Rocky Mountain Natural Gas, a Colorado pipeline company that is a sister company to SourceGas.
The Rocky Mountain Natural Gas suit accused CMC of terminating the lease without cause and not acting in good faith regarding the deal.
The suit asks the judge to essentially overturn CMC’s refusal to recognize the lease, reinstate the land use review process and order that the agreement with SourceGas be honored.
Lacking that, the suit asks for monetary damages, to include at least the roughly $2.5 million the company claims it spent on equipment and engineering concerning the CMC site.