Developer and town still at loggerheads

By Grace Moore

Courtesy photo
The final plat highlighting the cul de sac and property in question.

 

 

 

One week after confronting the Moorcroft Town Council over the water line for the future Bountiful Homes Subdivision, developer Steve Noakes still maintains he is being unfairly treated.

Last week’s special meeting introduced the issue of the one-inch service line that Noakes wants the town to accept as the incoming line from the town’s main to the meter set within the right of way in the cul de sac. Public Works Director Cory Allison had refused to tie into the meter with the

Courtesy photos
The first meter pit within the right of way that was initially to be the point of connection between the house pictured and the main line under the cul de sac, which in turn would connect to the town’s eight-inch line 300 feet north to Lincoln.

one-inch, which would have tacitly placed responsibility for said line with the town.

 

“When the [public works] service guy came up, I said, ‘Are you going to tie into the rest of the line?’ and he called Cory [Allison] and Cory said ‘No, that’s not our job, that’s his job’,” Noakes says.

The incoming line from the town’s main down the hill at Lincoln Street to the meter is the responsibility of the developer until the town accepts it. The council does not accept that a one-inch line is sufficient to support multiple lots, leaving all responsibility of the one-inch line to Noakes if he decides to keep that line.

Noakes paid the tap fee of $3000 to tap the existing house into the meter at the bottom of the cul de sac at the town’s eight-inch line and retain ownership of the cul de sac line.

This issue is covered by municipal law. Charlie Britton, who is a member of the Moorcroft Planning Commission, researched Noakes’ responsibility and found ordinances saying that, “The subdivider shall install the mains in his subdivision by private contract, subject to approval of the plans and specifications by the Town of Moorcroft,” though the town may elect to perform the actual installation itself, and, “All water mains required to serve a platted subdivision, including cross-connecting mains, shall be installed at the cost of the subdivider.”

However, Noakes and wife Penny have a different perspective of the situation. They do not agree with the town that a larger line is needed going into the cul de sac.

Noakes says, “I’m not after a main, I’m after a service [line]; every house out here is tied into an eight-inch line, it doesn’t have to graduate.”

Penny adds, “They keep telling Steve that he cannot have a one inch main. We aren’t putting in a main; the main is the major water line that flows through [Lincoln] and the town.”

According to Noakes, he has provided beyond his obligation.

“When they came out to make the tie-in, Cory and I met out here and I said, it’s not fair for [the town] to have to go 300 feet of trenching and water line, I’ll provide that, and I did that out of the goodness of my heart, not because of any requirements,” he says.

“The ordinance reads that they have to provide the meter pit and labor to put everything in for the tap fee. I hired a guy to trench from the culvert up here to [lot 8]. I bought the water line and had it all there and ready for them and all they had to do was dig that little bit to put it in.”

Penny says that almost all of the water lines in town are one inch and Councilman Dick Claar concurs. However, says Claar, “None of those lines travel 300 feet. He’s asking us to accept that line. We’re moving the meter from the cul de sac.”

“Where the one in the cul de sac is [located] is probably where it should be, but there should be an eight-inch main running up into that cul de sac at the developer’s expense. It has to be engineered and DEQ approved; then we would tie on right there where that meter pit is by the house,” Claar continues.

“He’s trying to tie into the main 300 feet away, down in the street. It’s just not common sense to have the town and all the taxpayers be responsible for anything that could go wrong with that one-inch…We’ve directed Cory to put the meter pit down by the main line and we’ll tie in down there.”

Noakes notes that Mayor Steve Sproul contacted him after the decision was made to let him know that public works would be pulling the meter at the top of the cul de sac and Noakes was then on site to stop the men from accessing the pit. Asked about this maneuver, Claar says, “That’s a public street according to his plat and the meter pit is in an easement…He’s just trying to threaten us.”

The Noakes believe that the council is “against growth”, claiming that, on a previous occasion when they attempted to develop a subdivision, the situation ended with the town offering to purchase the land when Steve threatened to sue the town for not allowing him to develop his project. Penny says that, when this subdivision was first planned, “they would absolutely not give us any leeway at all”.

This is a sentiment with which Claar strongly disagrees, as the majority of the governing body went along with Noakes proceeding with the building of the subdivision.

“My thinking was that we’re helping him out and he’ll do it right,” he says. “Our rules actually say, if you’re building a subdivision, you have to submit a complete plat to the town of water lines and everything and he didn’t have that on the [preliminary] plat and we said, ‘well, you know, to help you out and help Moorcroft grow, we’ll accept this incomplete plat’ on his word that he would develop it as he went. He hasn’t developed it according to the expectations of what a subdivision is are.”

An example of the problem at hand is the absence of mandatory hydrants. “Actually, he’s supposed to have installed hydrants down below on that eight inch main and didn’t do it,” says Claar.

“I think what’s going to happen,” says Claar, “is he’s going to have to tie into that meter pit by the road and accept that 300 feet as his or the property owner’s responsibility. The optimum result would be for him to run a six or eight inch main up the road into that cul de sac. It’s up to Noakes; he’s either got to accept this or fight it.”

When asked what kind of resolution he hopes to see, Noakes responded, “All I want them to do is leave me alone.”