by Lisa Cyriacks

Saguache County Commissioners issued an unanimous statement that they would not relinquish County Road 59 to the Town of Moffat in order to facilitate the flagpole annexation required by the Town to annex additional property for Area 420.

The controversial flagpole annexation would also result in 80 acres contiguous to the town, not within the Town boundary, but would be surrounded by the town.

The Commissioners and the County Attorney pointed to possible legal entanglements should the County agree to relinquish ownership of the road, yet still collect Highway User Tax Funds and maintain the road. County Road 59 is a school bus route critical for transporting students to and from Moffat School.

Commissioner Tim Lovato also pointed out to Mayor Patricia Riegel that the Commissioners, like residents of Moffat and surrounding area, shared concerns about water, soil results and the impact on the community.

The acquisition of a portion of CR 59 would be necessary to complete Annexation No. 3 of Potch LLC for expanding Area 420. Without obtaining the abandonment of that portion of CR 59, the necessary contiguity for the annexation cannot be achieved.

A group of Moffat residents hired an attorney challenging the annexation by filing an objection to it.

The November 29 letter from The Conundrum Group LLP summarizes: “The Moffat Group believes that Potch has hijacked the Town of Moffat’s local government platform for commercial purposes and is pursuing a business plan that seeks to workaround and undermine [Saguache] County marijuana licensing requirements and land use restrictions by design and to the detriment of the public health and safety in the County.”

The letter continues: “DOLA (Colorado Department of Local Affairs) warns that the failure to plan specifically for the physical growth of a municipality can result in haphazard annexations that prove expensive to the municipality annexing the land, the county in which the land is located and the neighboring communities.”

Legal challenges to the first parcel annexed by Moffat for Area 420 have remained unaddressed. The letter from Conundrum Group LLC warns that if the first Potch Annexation did not comply with statutory law, then the first Potch Annexation cannot satisfy the contiguity requirements for any future Town of Moffat annexations.

Potch LLC has the option to continue the Area 420 development on its property currently located in the unincorporated area of Saguache County under the existing County regulations for subdivision.

At a Town of Moffat meeting on December 12, the Mayor indicated that they are working with the Town Attorney to identify additional possible routes to annexation. More information will be forthcoming at the Town Board’s January 7 meeting, 6:30pm at Town Hall, 401 Lincoln Street.

In September 2019 the Town of Moffat received two petitions from Whitney Justice, manager for Potch LLC, for annexation of a total of 325 acres to the west and north of town.

In 2018, Potch LLC successfully petitioned the Town to add approximately 100 acres. The land that was annexed in 2018 has been subdivided into two-acre and five-acre parcels and developed as Area 420 Commercial Cannabis Park.