Green Mountain water district wins court ruling

Ruling ends lawsuit with Big Sky and developers

Staff report
Posted 5/7/21

The Green Mountain Water and Sanitation District has won a summary judgement dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a neighboring municipal district and area developers.

Jefferson County District Court …

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Green Mountain water district wins court ruling

Ruling ends lawsuit with Big Sky and developers

Posted

The Green Mountain Water and Sanitation District has won a summary judgement dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a neighboring municipal district and area developers.

Jefferson County District Court Judge Jason D. Carrithers issued his ruling on the case on May 6, to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit was over a 2018 agreement, where Green Mountain made a deal with Big Sky Metropolitan District to help bring sewer waste from Big Sky's system to Denver Water. The board of directors for Green Mountain approved the agreement, but later that same day the outcome of district elections changed three of the board members. The new members moved to invalidate the agreement. Big Sky filed the lawsuit in response, arguing a breach of contract, and seeking $140 million in damages.

Developers, who had been planning on Big Sky and Green Mountain to handle the sewage waste of their future development plans filed their own suits. These included CDN Red Rocks, Steam Reality Acquisition, Three Dinos, and Cardel Homes. Their claims were consolidated with the Big Sky suit by the courts.

In challenging the consolidated lawsuit, Green Mountain attorney Jo Deziel Timmins argued that since Green Mountain would have to build new infrastructure, including lift stations, flow stabilization basins and force mains to uphold its part of the agreement, and since those things would cost money to build and maintain, then the district would have had to appropriate funds to pay for it all. Timmins argued that since the district had not put forward a ballot question for more money, or identified any other source of funding to pay for the promised work, that the agreement was null and void since it would violate the Local Government Budget Law and TABOR.

Big Sky's lawyers tried to counter-argue that the costs to Green Mountain would not have been so high, and that at least some reimbursement arrangements were laid out in the agreement.

The judge however wrote in the decision that potential reimbursement of some items did not count as proper appropriations under the law and that the original agreement clearly stated that there would be infrastructure costs to Green Mountain.

"Because there is no dispute of material fact that appropriations were not made for expenditures imposed by the IGA (Inter Governmental Agreement), the IGA between Big Sky and Green Mountain is void as a matter of law," Judge Carrithers wrote in his order.

The case might not be entirely dead. The summary judgement was specifically against Big Sky's claim. The judge ruled that the developers would still have 21 days to file a response, arguing that they would still have standing to continue in their lawsuits.

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