Judge sides with CMC in SourceGas suit
Post Independent staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A local judge ruled on Monday that a disputed lease between Colorado Mountain College (CMC) and the SourceGas natural gas distributing company is “void and unenforceable,” thereby dismissing a lawsuit filed last year by SourceGas.
The lawsuit was filed concerning CMC’s refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the lease, which was for five acres of land on the college’s Spring Valley Campus. SourceGas wanted to use the land as the site for a compressor station, to maintain pressure on its Rifle to Avon natural gas pipeline,
“We are pleased that this issue has been resolved by the court, and we can concentrate on the business of educating students,” said CMC Board of Trustees President Glenn Davis.
He said that in addition to addressing the college district’s authority to enter into such leases, the trustees were “responding to concerns raised by students, faculty and area residents” when they decided the lease was not legitimate.
The lease had been negotiated and approved by former CMC President Stan Jensen and signed in 2011 by the college district’s contracts manager, Steve Boyd.
After the deal became public, a rising crescendo of protest was heard from CMC students unhappy about industrial uses of college land, and from teachers at the school and a portion of the college district’s electorate.
The school’s board of trustees found in May 2012 that the lease did not meet the requirements set out in the college district’s governing statutes.
For one thing, the trustees concluded, the lease was for 20 years, longer than the three-year lease term allowed for college property under state law for junior college districts.
CMC was formally created as a six-county junior college district serving the mountainous region in central Colorado.
On another point, the school maintained that the board of trustees had never formally voted to approve the lease, as also is required under state law for the leasing of college property.
Ninth District Judge James Boyd agreed with the school’s arguments and on Monday issued his ruling.
“We’re disappointed,” said SourceGas spokeswoman Natalie Shelbourn on Monday afternoon.
She explained that company officials knew of the judge’s decision, but had not seen anything in writing and so could not comment further.
Davis said he did not think there would be any further action needed by the college district’s board of trustees in the matter, including any need to reopen talks with SourceGas about a potentially more acceptable site for a compressor station.
“I am of the understanding that they have made some alternate arrangements for the compression station,” he said, ”so there is no more need for our site.”
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