Embattled Cody Subdivision Moves Forward

By Bryce Cornatzer
18 July 2014

A Cody subdivision that has been tied-up in a law suit is moving forward.

The Holmview Addition Number Five is a year behind schedule. The proposed subdivision is located adjacent to Sunset Elementary School on Cody's southern rim. When the school was built, sewer and electrical services had be extended in order to reach the building's location. When those services were extended, the school facilities commission entered into an agreement with the city that said any developer who tapped-in to those utilities would have to cover the state's costs.

The subdivision's developer Roy Holm filed a lawsuit against the city, Cody school district, and the state arguing that he was being held to a four percent per year charge during which time the city had not given final approval on the subdivision.

Lawyers were seeking a nullification of the recapture agreement, a decision on rights and responsibilities, and payment for attorney fees.

City Planner Tod Stowell informed city council at its Tuesday meeting that developers were amending their utility plan.

“Developers went through different options,” said Stowell, “and they determined that it was best to reconfigure their utility plan, so that they are not utilizing that sewer line. Also, there is an existing electrical line at the south end of the subdivision that they originally would have tied-in to but now propose not to. By doing so, they are hoping to avoid the recapture agreement.”

By installing their own utilities, developers will avoid the $31,000 recapture agreement.

Now there is another catch, says Roy Holm. City ordinance requires developers to transfer Cody Canal water rights to the city. The State Board of Control has once rejected a transfer to the city, so Holm is seeking to transfer Holmview's Cody Canal water rights, not to the city, but to property on a development north of Holmview.

“That ground, the five acres for Holmview Addition Number Five, has not been irrigated for five years,” said Holm. “According to their policy they will not allow that land to be detached, use changed and transferred to the city of Cody, because it has not been irrigated – that's our justification for this variance. The Board of Control would not accept a transfer on this other small subdivision. That one, which was less than half an acre, amounts to less about three gallons a minute of water. It's not a big deal, but it's something that still has to be transferred according to your ordinance.”

Council and staff are uncertain whether a previous denial of water right transfer was a change in rules and policy or a a decision based on a unique objection.

“My concern is,” said City Attorney Scott Kolpitcke, “without having followed the Board of Control proceedings myself I don't know if this is a written policy they're coming-out with, what the parameters are, what the criteria are, or how it fits into this specific application.

Holm is requesting a variance so that he does not have to further delay construction in the event that the Board of Control denies the transfer of Holmview Five's water rights. That variance would be included in the final plat documents. Council is hesitant granting Holm a variance.

“I'm looking at it as a consistency situation with other developers in other subdivisions,” said Mayor Nancy Tia Brown. “If the Board of Control is changing their rules, then we've got to change things.

Though hesitant, council granted Holm final approval of the Homview Number Five development with a caveat that says it will revisit the issue of water rights transfer should the Board of Control deny transfer to the city.

The board meets August 18 in Cheyenne.

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Location : Cody