Byers Peak Properties water deal stalls

Reid Tulley

FRASER — Byers Peak Properties and the Town of Fraser are now at an impasse concerning an agreement to provide out-of-town water and wastewater service to the planned Byers Peak Development.

During the regular meeting of the Fraser Board of Trustees on Wednesday, March 27, the Fraser board unanimously approved a counter offer to what Byers Peak Properties has said was their “final and best offer.”

While neither party has said they formally reject or accept either offer, the town has said it will not accept the last offer from Byers Peak Properties, and Byers Peak Properties has said it won’t accept the offer that was approved by the Fraser board.

The main difference between the two offers sits in the charge for out-of-town service and the amount of plant investment fees to be paid up front and the cost of those tap fees.

Byers Peak Property’s final offer requested 1.1 times the monthly in-town water and sewer service fees for the property and a 20 percent increase in both the water and wastewater service fees, equal to 1.2 times the normal in-town fee.

The 20 percent increase in wastewater plant investment fees would make the fee $9,000 from the normal $7,500 fee for in-town plant investment fees for wastewater. The 20 percent increase for water plant investment fees would bring that fee to $9,240 from the normal $7,700 for in-town plant investment fees for water service.

Byers Peak’s offer also raised the amount of prepaid plant investment fees to 75, from 50, to be paid over a 10-year period.

The counter offer that was approved by the town board raises the plant investment fees for both water and wastewater to 30 percent of the normal in-town fee, equal to 1.3 times the normal in-town fee. The town’s counter offer raises the amount of pre-paid tap fees to 100 and requires those to be paid up-front to the town at the time the agreement is finalized.

The 30 percent increase from in-town plant investment fee charges represents a total of $9,750 per wastewater plant investment fee and $10,010 per water-plant investment fees.

The town’s counter offer also increases the service fees for water and wastewater to 1.3 times the normal in-town service fees.

The Fraser board stated that they believed their counter offer represents a fair offer that allows Byers Peak Properties to move forward with development this summer.

Byers Peak Properties stated that they will not accept Fraser’s counter offer, though have left their offer on the table until March 31.

Representatives of Byers Peak Properties believes that the town stands to lose out on millions of dollars worth of revenues as well as a number of other benefits related to providing immediate access to stored augmentation water to protect Blue Zone users from a call for water from senior water rights holders downstream, as well as number of other benefits related to the construction of an augmentation pond by the town.

Byers Peak Properties says that according to their market research, the increase in fees and rates would make development of the property unaffordable.

“The Town’s proposal is unrealistic and would result in a failed project. We are planning a project that can succeed in this market over an extended period of time, and the Fraser proposal would have the opposite effect,” said Clark Lipscomb, president of Byers Peak Properties in an email to Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith.

Fraser agrees with Byers Peak Properties that this agreement potentially holds a number of benefits for the town and its residents, though they feel that if the agreement is not approved, they have other options they can pursue to achieve the needs and goals of the town.

“We feel like that was a fair offer,” said Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith. “We are hoping that in the next few weeks he will come back and accept the deal.”

“I felt really great at the end of the meeting that my board members came together on this,” Smith said.

The March 26 meeting marks the last meeting of the current board of trustees for Fraser. At least two new board members will be seated on the board following the April 1 election and as many as four new members could be seated to the board as there are two incumbents running for the positions.

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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