County keeps pressure on De Beque

Town pressed to detail plans for land it has been annexing

Ava St. Pierre-Cogburn and her grandchildren Olivia and Hayden walk from her new home which will be surrounded by Schlumberger headquarters in DeBeque. She is opposing the project.

When Ava St. Pierre-Gogburn, 48, and her husband Rod Cogburn, 50, wanted to build a retirement home they made a conscious choice to stay out of De Beque.

Instead of annexing into the town, they spent two years awaiting clearances from the Mesa County Planning Department, at times living in a recreational vehicle on their undeveloped property.

They could have annexed their 20 acres into the town of De Beque, which would have sped up the approval process. But the Cogburns, who started construction last week, said they have little faith in De Beque.

“We wanted the county in charge. We knew they would plan it out,” Ava said. “I feel very optimistic that it was the right way.”

The Cogburns’ property borders 394 acres annexed by the town and owned by energy services firm Schlumberger.

They are concerned, however, that traffic on nearby 45 1/2 Road is not being planned for and that the energy giant will not be as organized or responsive as it might have been under county guidance.

“We are hoping somehow ... that the county steps in,” she said.

The county hasn’t taken any action to stop the Schlumberger annexation, but it has begun legal proceedings to halt three other rezonings and annexations. The county is also searching for a way to legally challenge developer Reid Rosenthal’s mixed-use project in the Blue Stone Valley, 2 1/2 miles southwest of town, known as the Canyons at De Beque, said Lyle Dechant, Mesa County attorney.

Dechant called the proposed 500-acre, 1,500-plus home development at T Road south of Interstate 70 “a disconnected satellite” during a briefing to the Mesa County Commission last week and he is researching options to challenge its annexation.

On Monday the commission authorized Dechant to step up the legal pressure and file required, time-sensitive paperwork regarding the other annexations the county deems problematic. The county argues De Beque does not have an adequate annexation plan to show how it will provide for essential services like water and sewerage, and how it plans to manage the increased vehicle traffic.

Schlumberger stipulated in its annexation agreement with De Beque that it must have working water and sewer by August 2009, or the town will be compelled to pay the company $1,000 a day.

De Beque Town Manager Bruce Smith has accused County Administrator Jon Peacock of blocking a $375,000 loan from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the town to provide sewer and water to the Schlumberger parcel.

DOLA’s Jack Kirtland contends the loan was approved, but De Beque must have an intergovernmental agreement with the county in place to get the money. That condition was set by DOLA, Kirtland said.

Also, the county is petitioning the court to force mediation. De Beque Mayor Dale Rickstrew objected to that prospect in a letter sent to Mesa County Court Judge David Bottger on Aug. 28.

“We see this motion as simply one more attempt to misuse the legal system,” Rickstrew wrote.


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