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Thornton will use its status as a utility to overturn Weld County’s denial of its 75-mile water pipeline

Thornton has been fighting to build a 75-mile water pipeline since 2015. Only 6 miles is complete.

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

Following the Weld County Board of Commissioners’ decision to deny the city of Thornton’s application to build a water pipeline through the county, Thornton intends to use a state statute to overrule the commissioners’ decision.

Thornton City Council on Tuesday will vote on a resolution directing the city to bypass the board’s denial and commence pipeline construction, according to a posted meeting agenda.

If approved the resolution will allow Thornton will skip an otherwise lengthy and cumbersome process for getting the pipeline approved at a point where the city feels like time is running short.

Thornton’s goal is to complete the Thornton Water Project, a 75-mile pipeline from a reservoir near Fort Collins, by 2025. So far, the city has built 6 miles in jurisdictions where Thornton has negotiated agreements. However, the two longest sections – one in unincorporated Larimer County and the other in unincorporated Weld County – have faced setbacks.

“Thornton has followed all of the processes and regulations required in every jurisdiction our project will impact,” said Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann in an email statement. “But at the end of the day, we have to use every option we can to make sure the pipeline is constructed, and the water arrives here in Thornton.”

The Larimer County Board of Commissioners denied Thornton’s application for a “1041 permit” to build the pipeline in 2019, leading to a series of ongoing court battles between the city and Larimer County board. Then in May, the Weld County board denied Thornton’s application for a “use by special review” permit, causing Thornton to file a complaint against the board in Weld County District Court.

Thornton began to seriously consider using a state statute that would essentially reverse the board’s decision right after the Weld County commissioners’ denial, city spokesman Todd Barnes said. Colorado Revised Statutes 30-28-110(1)(c) allows a utility that is financing and authorizing the construction of a project to overrule a denial by a county board of commissioners.

To read more of this story visit the Thornton Sentinel.

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