Minden turns down surface water offer
August 9, 2013
Minden Town Board members turned down an offer of surface water rights Wednesday, preferring, instead, to collect an estimated $220,651 in future connection fees for 30 single-family lots.
The board voted unanimously to deny a request by La Costa Minden, LLC and ABN Enterprises, LLC, to donate 136.8 acre feet of decreed surface water rights to the town in exchange for future connection fee credit for 30.54 single family residential lots.
The concept was originally discussed in 2008, but chain of title questions and financial issues delayed any formal action by the town board.
The credit for the water was to apply only to the water rights portion of the connection fee. Other parts of the connection fee would be paid at the time that each water permit for a new building is issued.
"Why would we pass up $220,000 in revenue?" asked board member John Stephans.
Member Steve Thaler questioned whether the town was trying to build up a bank of surface water rights.
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Town Engineer Bruce Scott said that had been town policy.
"I'm with John," Thaler said. "We don't have enough money coming in."
Scott said the town couldn't know how quickly the development would occur.
"It's a policy-type decision," Scott said. "We kind of need to figure out where our balance is, if we even want to be in the surface water business.
"I hate to see a water resource go wanting, but it's a balance between a quality of life issue vs. hard dollars."
Scott said accepting the offer "sends a message we're actively engaged in water stewardship."
"I think we have demonstrated that we are good stewards of water," Stephans said, adding he was reluctant "to sacrifice a quarter of a million dollars for surface water and not do anything with it."
Board chairman Charlie Condron told Michelle Godde, project coordinator for Syncon Homes, that it "probably was not the most opportune time" for her to make the proposal.
"We are trying to ferret out issues as to what target amounts we should be holding," he said. "If this is not something the board is going to support, I would like to see the request again after the board has had an opportunity to look at it in depth."