Noakes subdivision

By Grace Moore

A special meeting was called Tuesday night for Moorcroft’s governing body to deal with an issue involving the Bountiful Homes Subdivision, created by developer Steve Noakes. Specifically, the council dealt with the questions: who should be responsible for connecting water to that subdivision and how can the town ensure the utilities conform to its standards?

The council heard that Public Works Director Cory Allison refuses to go against town ordinance to trench across 300 feet of Noakes’ private property, at a cost to the town, or to allow Noakes to tap an unapproved one-inch “main line” onto the town’s water line. Municipal standard for hooking to the eight-inch main line is significantly larger.

In September of 2015, the council was advised by Town Attorney Jim Peck that the two most common ways to ensure compliance from a developer on an agreed-upon plat is to grant a provisional approval of said plat. Or, he said, the municipality can require the developer to post a performance bond, “like any other contractor; then, if the work isn’t done…the town can go against the bond to do the work itself”.

At that time, Peck cautioned council members to be aware that, if they chose no way to enforce the plat, there would be no way to ensure the agreement once it was filed if the developer chose to disregard it.

Despite Peck’s advice, the then-council and mayor, with the exception of Councilman Owen Mathews, voted to allow Noakes to proceed without a provisional approval or bond. Mayor Steve Sproul stated at the time, “We don’t know what the future will bring…Let’s show a little faith.”

On Monday night, Noakes told the council, “I paid $3000 for a tap fee; it’s the town’s responsibility to put it in to my property.” Mathews, however, disagreed.

“You’re asking us to pay to put your service line in,” he said. “If you look at the ordinance, if there’s a line within 300 feet of your property, you are required to hook on to it.”

Noakes became angered and, in the first of several expletive-laden statements, loudly told Mathews to stop talking, claiming he did not know what he was talking about. Mayor Steve Sproul attempted to bring the meeting back under control, pounding the gavel and asking to see the ordinance in question.

Noakes was found to be responsible as the developer for hooking into the town’s water system, as had been explained to him by Allison earlier and then by Mathews. However, recognizing that Noakes did not, in fact, plumb his subdivision to town standards brought another issue to the fore.

Regarding the one-inch line Noakes has used under his subdivision and wants to tap on to Moorcroft’s main line, Councilman Paul Smoot said he had asked other professional plumbers about standard practices.

“What really bothered me is that we’ve got an eight-inch main coming in to a one-inch. I talked to plumbers and contractors who do work for me this afternoon for about two hours and they all asked: why are we running a one inch line from an eight inch main 300 feet up to a house?” he said.

“It’s supposed to be an eight-inch to a six-inch that goes up into the cul de sac…I’m seeing a lot of stuff I don’t like here. What I’m concerned about is why this stuff wasn’t done the way it’s supposed to be done in the first place according to everyone who’s a professional who I’ve talked to?”

Mathews showed where Noakes is in current violation of ordinance in yet another area.

“From the very beginning, you submitted a plat that said it was a dry plat, no water, and you knew there was stuff there. That was asked to be fixed in the August 10 [2015] meeting and Ben Glenn motioned to approve the preliminary plan based on you having a proper perc test presented and proper hydrant placement. There aren’t any hydrants there,” he said.

Noakes said angrily of the already approved plat, “There’s nothing you can do about it, it’s a done deal…We’re going to cut this real short and sweet. Either Cory comes up there and finishes tying into the city meter on city property or I get a lawyer and sue [the town].”

Mathews, who attempted to make a motion but was overridden repeatedly by Noakes’ threats, reprimanded Noakes for attempting to bully the governing body. Noakes continued to admonish the council before giving them “24 hours” before he returns with his attorney.

After the developer’s departure, the council approved the removal of the meter until a decision can be made to ensure the unapproved line cannot be hooked into the town line and Sproul stated that he would call Peck before the town made any motions on the situation.