Carbondale officials claim ranch owner polluting water

CARBONDALE, Colo. (AP) Town officials are suing a North Carolina land development partnership for allegedly polluting the community's drinking water supply and causing two partial shut-downs of the city's water plant.

Town officials are hoping to negotiate a settlement with GSS Properties LLC, which owns Hanging Valley Ranch on the edge of town.

In the meantime they want a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop construction on the land uphill from the town's main water intake.

According to the lawsuit filed Friday in Pitkin County District Court, GSS Properties has caused erosion by building a pond without the necessary permits on the land, which causes sediment to seep into the system.

The work has sent mud and dirt into Nettle Creek, one of the town's chief water sources, and twice forced the closure of the creek's intake, the lawsuit alleges.

The town also claims GSS Properties has used or intends to use chemical herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides on the land, which could possibly contaminate the creek and pose an even further hazard to the town's drinking water supply.

Mark Hamilton, one of the town's lawyers, said a possible settlement would have to include some sort of erosion control to prevent this from reaching a North Carolina courtroom.

''We want to sit down and work this out,'' he said. ''And we have no indications that won't happen.''

Gary Snook, one of the partners in GSS Properties and an Aspen resident, said Monday that he had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and would not comment on it.

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