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La Veta on outside watering conditions

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- At its October 4 meeting, the La Veta Town Board passed Resolution 10-11 which restricts town water users from outside watering of lawns and gardens effective immediately and until further notice. Water plant manager Rob Saint Peter told Mayor Don Keairns that the town is using water at a rate of 100,000 gallons per day more than it is taking in. Keairns reported that Water Commissioner Doug Brgoch told him the imminent cold snap could make trees go dormant and result in a comeback of the Cucharas River in the next ten days. The mayor admitted the town cannot levy fines against violators unless the restrictions are enacted as an ordinance. An audience member suggested that out-of-towners with automatic sprinklers need to be notified. The Tree Board has asked that residents with trees provided by the Tree Board please continue to water the young trees, and the board agreed that supporting the trees would not be part of the restriction.
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad has made another inquiry into purchasing the Train Depot building, currently serving as Town Hall. Trustee Laurie Erwin researched the recent history of the building and found that three CDOT grants were obtained to move the building to its present location. Erwin characterized the depot as a $500,000 building that the town got for $90,000. There was no stipulation in the grant funding that the building cannot be sold. However, the Town held several fundraisers to obtain it and, as Trustee Jim Fowler put it, “the people of La Veta contributed money to buy it and renovate it.” If the town board were to consider selling the historic structure, it would be required to put the matter to a vote of La Veta residents as a ballot issue in an election. After completing her report, Erwin said, “I am not in favor of selling the depot.” The railroad’s plan is to use the depot for passenger operations and possibly a museum. The mayor told the board, “For the right price I would be willing to sell the depot. The town has been told that the money would only be available in the railroad’s budget until the end of 2011.
Trustee Dale Davis updated the board on a controversy between Catherine Koch and Paul (Snappy) Smith over a fence and access to the town’s alley between 120 West Field St. and 124 West Field St. Building inspector Rick Dunn looked to the board for guidance about a chain link gate that blocks the alley. As Davis described it, “It’s not an alley you can drive through. But there’s a sewer line through that alley, so it can’t be vacated.” Dunn added, “this is her driveway.” Although Dunn proposed the compromise of a drive-through gate on Mrs. Koch’s property line which would not be locked, Fowler said, “we’re moving the gate but it’s still across the alley.” According to a recorded easement paraphrased by Trustee Laurie Erwin, access to the alley cannot be impeded. The board voted 5-1 that the town will remove the existing gate in the North-South alley between 120 and 124 West Field and will not replace it, according to the recorded easement deed that goes with this property.
The mayor reported that the town has transferred one certificate of deposit and all of its savings accounts to the First National Bank in Trinidad. This was in response to notification by Community Banks of Colorado that it could no longer accommodate interest bearing public funds accounts.
The town’s water attorney, Hank Worley, will file a statement of opposition to a water court case by the City of Walsenburg seeking to change its interest in Gomez Ditch priorities #10 & #124.
The board approved a water rate change for Mike Holvick, who owns a duplex he is currently using as a single family residence. Although Holvick has the property listed for sale as a duplex, he told the Board he has no intention of renting it. Holvick said he has been paying a dual water rate on the duplex for eleven years. In a dissenting opinion, Trustee Davis told the board, “Two Foxes requested last year to have their EQRs [for their cabins] adjusted, and we didn’t go along with it.” His opinion was that this was a similar request and added, “I’m a stickler about the water.” The decision passed on a 5-1 vote. Holvick complimented Trustee Fowler and Town Clerk Christal Copley for helping him gather the information he needed and for treating him agreeably.
On behalf of the Historic Preservation Committee, Mary Jean Fowler told the Board that some of the lots around town are collecting “stuff.” She said the committee suggests that, during its budget considerations, the town consider employing a code enforcement officer.
As the meeting wrapped up, Copley told the Board that the contractor has not finished entering the financial information into Quickbooks, although the original plan was to have the task completed by this meeting. The board did not have a set of financial reports to vote on at this meeting and had to set aside the last two sets of meeting minutes because they were not ready to vote on.