Moffat’s Area 420 faces judicial review

Saguache County requests most recent annexation voided

by Lisa Cyriacks

Saguache County Commissioners are seeking judicial review of the most recent annexation by the Town of Moffat, citing public health and safety concerns.

The most recent annexation of 325 acres is located to the west and north of the town. Like the first annexation done in 2018, the land is intended for subdivision for commercial entities, “of non-cannabis related, and legal cannabis-related commercial entities”.

Saguache County asserts that the actions of the Town of Moffat Trustees fail to meet the statutory requirements for annexation, is not in the best interest of Saguache County and its citizens, and further that such actions create an ongoing safety and health hazard for the residents of the county.

On March 9, 2020 counsel for the Moffat Board of Trustees, by letter, informed the County that the Trustees did not act on the motion for reconsideration and that it was deemed denied.

In the motion filed with the court, the County alleges:

1) The annexed property does not meet the requirements to establish contiguity to the Town, and therefore is insufficient.

2) The County objects to the use of County Road 59 for the flagpole annexation.

3) The Town failed to provide a legal basis for claiming County Road 59.

4) The County asserts that the Town of Moffat does not have the resources to property maintain the road, a major transportation arterial for the residents of Saguache County.

5) The Town did not include a plan for the ongoing maintenance of County Road 59, nor how the citizens of Saguache County will be compensated for loss of HUTF funds for that segment of the road.

The County contends that the impact study submitted at the end of 2019 was inadequate because it did not include an accurate basis for the education assessment.

The impact study did not address the extension of Town services to the annexed properties. It also does not include a viable plan to extend utilities, provide adequate water and how the costs for the expanded demand on municipal resources will be paid for.

The third annexation ordinance contends that the water will be supplied from one private well owned by Potch LLC.  The supporting documentation of what the actual requirements for water is missing. Colorado Division of Water Resources had approved a substitute water supply plan, to be renewed annually and good for only five years, for the well. At the time of submission of the Impact Report the plan was in its third year of operation and set to expire in March 2020.

The County’s marijuana regulations adopted on August 21, 2018, expressly prohibit cultivation operations in subdivisions and require posting of a closure bond. The motion asserts the County’s position that the property is being annexed specifically to avoid complying with the County’s land use regulations governing the operation of marijuana cultivation activities.

Specific concerns about the inspection and enforcement resources and expertise of the Town of Moffat are raised by the County in the motion. The County also questions potential regulators hired by the town and related potential conflicts of interest that could compromise the regulators ability to unbiasedly ensure the safety of operations.

The first claim for relief requested by the county is for the court to grant judicial review and declare the annexation process to be void.

The second claim is for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Town of Moffat from taking any further actions related to the annexation until the case is heard in full.