Angst, support evident during community meeting about Shadow Mountain project

— A community meeting Wednesday with Moffat County and city of Craig officials suggested growing support among Shadow Mountain residents for a proposed infrastructure project that would replace water and sewer lines, roads and sidewalks in the deteriorating subdivision.

The turnout wasn’t as high as expected, but there still were about 60 Shadow Mountain residents who showed up to discuss the project and its cost to homeowners.

Some meeting attendees were skeptical of the project’s need and costs, but by the end of the meeting many seemed to agree the work is in the best interest of homeowners in Shadow Mountain.

Residents like Phil Hawks, however, remained adamantly against the proposal. Hawks told officials to leave him alone.

“I don’t want you guys to mess with anything. I won’t even live long enough to pay it off,” Hawks said. “I don’t need the extra cost, I don’t need the expense.”

But opting out may not be a viable option.

While reassured it was within his legal rights to opt out of the sewer and water line updates even if subdivision residents approve a local improvement district to help pay for the project, Hawks was warned his service lines could burst when the rest are updated.

As water mains broke in years past, the city reduced water pressure to the subdivision. When lines are replaced, the city will return the water pressure to normal levels.

Officials told Hawks his lines won’t be able to handle the pressure and most likely will burst. He was told he would then have to pay to dig up newly laid roads and sidewalks in order to repair the lines from the street to his home. That cost almost certainly would exceed the $4,000 per homeowner that officials estimate the improvement project will cost Shadow Mountain residents.

The total project is estimated to cost $6.6 million. Moffat County would contribute

$2.66 million, largely for road and sidewalk replacement; the city of Craig would pay $1 million for water and sewer main replacement; a Department of Local Affairs grant would potentially provide $1.65 million for the water and sewer main replacement; and Shadow Mountain residents would pay $1.33 million to replace the water and sewer lines that extend from the mains to their homes.

The cost to residents would be $4,000 per homeowner, currently proposed as a $17 permonth fee on their water bills for the next 20 years. Residents also would have the option of paying off their share up front.

But the project could cost more or less than $4,000 per homeowner, depending on individual circumstances.

Residents who have updated their lines to meet code within the past several years won’t have to participate in the project. And residents whose lines haven’t been updated will be responsible for the $4,000 as well as repairing any damage to landscaping, including fences and retaining walls, that resulted from the project.

One resident at Wednesday’s meeting voiced concern about being charged $4,000 to upgrade water and sewer lines and then being annexed into the city, at which point homeowners would face additional property taxes.

County Commissioner Chuck Grobe said annexation laws have changed and that Shadow Mountain can’t be annexed into Craig.

Some homeowners on Wednesday were concerned about paying double or triple the cost if they owned multiple lots.

City engineer Bill Earley confirmed that would be the case. Even if some of the lots were empty, they would have to be updated when and if they were sold. At that point, the owner would again be responsible for the cost of the line replacement as well as repairing any sidewalk and road damage.

Shadow Mountain residents will have the ultimate say in whether the project moves forward. Residents will have to decide whether to form a local improvement district that would allow them to seek a loan to pay the cost of their improvements up front. Forming the local improvement district also will increase the chances of a successful DOLA grant application, officials said.

If all is approved, construction would begin in spring 2014 and take three years to complete.

If residents reject the project, Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers told them not to expect new roads and sidewalks. He said the county’s $2.6 million contribution likely would be allocated to other county needs.

Allen Hischke, a Shadow Mountain resident for 25 years, said the choice seemed clear.

“It’s a matter of health, sanitation and public safety,” he said Wednesday.

Hischke asked Hawks to think about future generations of residents there.

“What about the future generations?” Hawks replied. “I’m concerned about myself.”

Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or dwarden@craigdailypress.com

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