Developer sues Fraser over wastewater treatment facility
October 15, 2015
Cornerstone Holdings Winter Park LLC has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Fraser and its board of trustees over the board's denial of a use by special review permit for a wastewater treatment plant.
The board denied the application for the plant, which would serve Cornerstone's Byers Peak Ranch development, at its Sept. 16 meeting.
The town's planning commission had previously recommended denial of the application.
A resolution to deny the application drafted before the meeting stated that the proposed use did not comply with all of the town's codes, ordinances and regulations and was not in line with the town's comprehensive plan.
The use was also in conflict with adjacent uses due to noise, odor and impact on property value, according to the resolution.
The proposed facility would include 7,500 square feet of space plus an additional 2,000 square feet for every 100,000 gallons of treatment capacity, according to a brief given to the town board.
The facility would be located along County Road 72 behind the Fraser Valley Center and would discharge into Elk Creek.
The complaint in Cornerstone's lawsuit, filed Oct. 13, challenges those assertions among others, stating that the town's findings "are generic and vague and do not provide sufficient or adequate specificity" to support denying the application.
Cornerstone maintains that the proposed facility would not be excessively noisy, produce odor or affect property values.
The complaint states that the board exceeded its jurisdiction in denying the application.
During the Sept. 16 meeting, Clark Lipscomb of Cornerstone lamented what he said were the town's excessive sewer tap fees.
Wastewater fees from Fraser cost $7,500, while building the new plant would cost around $1,200 per sewer tap in Byers Peak Ranch, Lipscomb said.
Trustee Jane Mather suggested that Cornerstone continue to work with the town to negotiate more appropriate fees, and the board's resolution found that the existing Upper Fraser Valley Wastewater Treatment Facility would best serve the development.
Cornerstone's complaint challenges that finding, arguing that the Byers Peak Ranch property is not located within the existing facility's service area and "has no right" to secure service from the facility.
The complaint calls it an "abuse of discretion and an act in excess of jurisdiction" for the board to base its decision in part on an alternative that's "not a legal possibility."
Cornerstone also takes issue with what it asserts was a lack of evidence presented during the Sept. 16 hearing to support the board's findings.
Cornerstone is seeking a reversal of the board's decision or, as an alternative, that the court require the board to "make findings and reach a decision consistent with the evidence presented to it at the public hearing."
Fraser and Cornerstone had previously discussed an out-of-town water and sewer service agreement for Byers Peak Ranch after voters rejected annexation of the property in 2013, though both parties could not agree upon the terms for such an agreement.
Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin said he was aware of the lawsuit but could not comment on it.
Lipscomb had not returned requests for comment as of press time.