Government Affairs Update: Larimer County




February 7, 2019

Strategic Plan Targets Affordable Housing

Larimer County Manager Linda Hoffmann was one of the main speakers at the 2019 Bizwest Economic Forecast on January 30. She noted that the County’s new strategic plan has three main goals: ensuring adequate infrastructure, providing programs and services to a growing population and ensuring efficient county government. Hoffmann said that housing affordability is an important strategic plan goal but did not offer any specifics. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds because housing is traditionally located in urban areas and is, therefore, the province of municipal government.

Commissioners Facing Challenging Thorton Pipeline Decision

For months, the Larimer County Commissioners have listened to hours of public feedback over the proposed City of Thorton pipeline. Thorton purchased 30,000 acre-feet of Poudre River water decades ago and is requesting approval of a 1041 permit to build a water transmission line and a 40 million gallon per day pumping facility. The project would require a 50-foot easement for the pipeline, which would be 26 miles in length and go through unincorporated Larimer County, Timnath, Windsor and Johnstown.

After public opposition to the original route along Douglas Road, Thorton is now asking for approval of a different route. The pipeline would take water from the Water Supply and Storage Company reservoir #4 north of Fort Collins and west of Highway 1, follow County Road 56 east to the Weld County line and then head south. Now representatives of Save the Poudre and other affect neighborhood opposition groups are proposing a new route, which would run the water down the Poudre, through Fort Collins and out via another pipeline near Windsor instead. Thorton officials argue that option would double their cost.

To sweeten the deal, Thorton has proposed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) that would include a variety of benefits, including a legal agreement to enhance river flows on the Poudre, a $1 million fund to address “challenges and creative strategies” to support agriculture and the vitality of the Poudre and a slew of other benefits. To complicate the decision, Northern Water will need a water pipeline for NISP that is similar in size and routing. County staff argues the CR 56 corridor is the appropriate location for the NISP pipeline too. Northern isn’t ready to pursue an IGA for NISP yet but will do so once NISP has been approved.

The Commissioners are scheduled to make their decision next week. Will they ignore upset neighbors and environmental activists for the greater good, or risk litigation from the City of Thorton? We will find out on Monday, February 11.

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