Analisa Romano
aromano@greeleytribune.com

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November 28, 2012
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Landowners threaten to sue in face of Ault annexation

Several property owners who live near an oil and gas welding business near Ault have threatened to sue the Ault Town Board if members proceed with a proposal to annex land on which the business sits.

The six property owners who live nearest to C & H Excavation sent a Notice of Claim to the board last week, saying they would seek damages in the decline in value to their properties if the board continues with the annexation hearing set for Dec. 4. The notice requests a response from Ault by Monday.

Ted Bendelow, the property owners’ lawyer, said the Ault board and the Ault town attorney, Greg Bell, have acted in favor of C & H rather than as a neutral agent in the annexation process.

Bell said it is up to the Ault Town Board to decide whether to move forward with the annexation.

“We really aren’t authorized to comment on that, other than the board considers it full of factual inaccuracies,” he said of the Notice of Claim.

According to the claim, Bell called C & H to notify the company of Union Pacific Railroad’s objection to the annexation because it owned 34 acres of property included in the proposal.

As a result, the board postponed its Oct. 24 hearing so that C & H could amend its application. If Bell hadn’t told C & H of the objection, the annexation petition would have been legally deficient, and the board would have had to deny it, Bendelow said. That notification, which was done informally, turned the board members and Bell into advocates for the applicant, he said.

The claim listed several other concerns, including the postponement of the Oct. 24 hearing, which was listed as a canceled meeting on the town’s website, and the board’s passing of a resolution that night that had not yet been drafted.

“Unfortunately, it’s our position that the town board has lost its position of objectivity based on sales tax revenue,” Bendelow said, citing the potential for hundreds and thousands of dollars to be added to Ault’s budget with the inclusion of C & H.

“We have no issue with the business — we wish it well — it’s just in the wrong place,” he said.

C & H Excavation first received a citation from Weld County in January 2011 for operating without a land-use permit, and has since engaged in a drawn-out application process. In October, Weld County commissioners postponed a land use hearing for the business until Dec. 12.

If the business’ land is joined with Ault at the town’s Tuesday hearing, then commissioners’ decision regarding the permit will be a moot point.

Surrounding property owners have repeatedly spoken out about the noise, dust and traffic that comes with the welding business, saying the permitting process left them with no way to mitigate those issues.

Cliff Simpson, the owner of C & H, said earlier this fall the company hopes to establish operating rules and guidelines that were left unanswered during its permitting process with the county.


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My Windsor Now Updated May 5, 2013 08:28PM Published Nov 29, 2012 01:33PM Copyright 2012 My Windsor Now. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.