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Silt happens

Heidi Rice, Rifle Correspondent

Silt may happen, but Stillwater may not.For nearly eight years, the developers of the Stillwater Ranch subdivision, (SWD, LLC), have assured residents that, despite numerous delays, the project is still in the works. However, the future is now unclear with a lawsuit filed against SWD by the owners of the property where the subdivision is to be located, as well as a looming Dec. 31 deadline with the town of Silt to show proof of financing for the project.Citing numerous missed deadlines and breach of an amended agreement in March 2003, the owners of the property, Valley Farms, Inc., have filed a complaint in Garfield County District Court saying they want SWD off their property.”Stillwater is not a done deal,” said Lee Leavenworth of Leavenworth & Karp, P.C. in Glenwood Springs, who is representing Valley Farms as the plaintiff in the lawsuit.Valley Farms sent SWD an initial notice of default in November 2003, stating that the agreement was terminated due to SWD’s failure to meet deadlines set to “insure that the Stillwater development would come to fruition in a timely, efficient manner.” The notice also demanded that “all payments and things of value” associated with the Stillwater development be forfeited by SWD and transferred back to Valley Farms.SWD has responded with a motion seeking to compel arbitration. Valley Farms now wants the case to be decided by the courts in a jury trial.A court hearing is scheduled on Dec. 30, 2004, to decide whether the case will be settled by arbitration or in court.”SWD disputes the claim and feels they should have more time,” Leavenworth said. “The lawsuit now is over whether or not to arbitrate.”Roger Dixon, of Texas, is president of Valley Farms, Inc. Vice president is Roy McPherson of Silt. McPherson declined to comment on the case while it is in litigation.John Watson, an attorney for the law firm of Moye Giles, LLP in Denver, which is representing SWD, said his clients believe they can still move forward with the project.”Anything is possible in this world and we’re going forward aggressively to make this happen,” Watson said. “They said we breached the agreement, but we think we’ve had good responses to all of that. We think (this project) is very much alive. Our next step is to get this dispute solved.”Stillwater Ranch was approved by voters in a special election in 1997. The subdivision, to be located on 36 acres south of the Colorado River, is slated to have 1,200 single- and multi-family homes, two 18-hole golf courses, a community center, swimming pool, hiking and equestrian trails and some commercial development.Along with the lawsuit, SWD also faces a Dec. 31 deadline with the town of Silt to file a final plat and begin construction. The developers have received several extensions from the town in the past.”They have to show a guarantee of funding by Dec. 31,” said Silt Town Administrator Rick Aluise. “Otherwise, the board has the option of finding them in default and that throws open all agreements. The board could begin the process for rescinding all (previous) approvals.”If the deadline is not met, town board members could also choose to deannex the property from the town.Watson said SWD is actively pursuing financing.”SWD is aggressively seeking financing for the project,” Watson said. “We are aggressively pursuing financing that will allow us to go forward.””SWD is aggressively seeking financing for the project,” Watson said. “We are aggressively pursuing financing that will allow us to go forward.”


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