by Larry Patrick
DENVER- Walsenburg City Council attempts to get wording changed on a current law to allow for them to mine gravel and use land for wind farms passed its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday.
Mayor Bruce Quintana and Walsenburg City Council persons, James Moore and Silvana Lind addressed the Local Government and Energy Committee of the Colorado State Legislature on Tuesday. The three requested the words “to lease” be included in a law that would allow cities and counties who bought land for water rights, be able to lease that land for other purposes. The City of Walsenburg bought the Corsentino Ranch a number of years ago for water rights. In the meantime, it has been used for growing hay and cattle grazing. Last year, the City Council sought to lease gravel when they found they had substantial gravel resources on the land. However, they found out that they could not legally do so because there was a law that allowed government entities to do just about anything with the land but lease it. The City contacted their legislative representatives, Sen. Ken Kester and State Representative, Wes McKinley to introduce legislation on the City’s behalf. They did so and public hearings were held Tuesday on the issue. It is contained in a larger bill that will be voted on later in this legislative session.
There were 7 members on the legislative committee. Two left early but expressed support. The rest voted unanimously, 5-0 to move the request forward for Walsenburg.
City attorney Dan Hyatt also answered legal concerns that were brought forth.
During a time when the City of Walsenburg is facing financial shortfalls, approval of the bill would give the City an opportunity to move ahead with leasing gravel rights to interested concerns while also looking at wind farm development on the land. One firm has expressed interest in doing so with the City.