Saratoga to annex USFS
The Saratoga Town Council met Tuesday for its second regular meeting of the month where it voted to annex the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Hayden-Brush Creek District Ranger office just south of town.
The vote to annex the USFS office into town came after a public hearing held May 4 at the Platte Valley Community Center where about 20 residents appeared to make their opinions on the matter known. The vote passed by a margin of three to one, with one council member absent.
The USFS originally approached the Saratoga Water and Sewer Joint Powers Board (sewer board) late last year to ask to be put on the town’s water supply, since the office’s well water was of low quality and low pressure, according to district ranger Melanie Fullman.
Members of the sewer board told Fullman the USFS facility would be required to accept town sewage service if it were to be on the town’s water supply. Such a rule was important, sewer board members said, to ensure infrastructure would be in place for future expansion.
The USFS accepted that mandate and soon unveiled plans to the sewer board that included water and sewer service. The sewer board accepted the USFS’ proposed water and sewer systems, but told the agency it must approach the town council and request annexation.
After discussion by town council members, the May 4 public hearing was scheduled. The council was unable to vote on annexation at that time, however, as a legal requirement to notify owners of adjacent property by registered mail was not carried out.
Instead, the board voted at Tuesday’s meeting. Mayor Ed Glode voted in favor of the annexation, as did council members Richard Raymer and Will Faust. Council member Steve Wilcoxson, who voiced his opposition to the annexation at previous council meetings, the May 4 public hearing and in a letter to the editor of the Saratoga Sun, voted against the annexation.
The move to annex the USFS property comes right in time for the management of the facility. Fullman told town council members and local citizens that funding for the project, estimated to cost the USFS about $300,000, had been approved by the federal government, but the funds would be withdrawn if not used.
Because of the time sensitive nature of the USFS’ request, the agency had to know if it could begin construction of the water and sewer lines by June.
At the public hearing May 4, several residents who owned homes near the end of South Veteran’s Street near the USFS facility voiced concerns about the existing sewer system and the impacts, that a property the size of the USFS district ranger’s office might have.
The sewer lines that run under their homes were illegally installed, the homeowners said, and had caused problems in the past. Because the lines were installed without proper legal authorization, the homeowners have been left to deal with rectifying the situation, something that would cost each owner of the four houses in question about $10,000 apiece.
The town, they said, should have come up with a plan of action to address that problem before either annexing the USFS property, or allowing the USFS to tie into town water and sewer services.
The next regular meeting of the Saratoga Town Council is scheduled to be held 6 p.m., June 6 at Saratoga Town Hall.