County continues legal battle with developer

The Quay County Commission continues a civil legal battle with Ute Lake Ranch Inc., in the Tenth Judicial District Court.

An injunction was requested against Ute Lake Ranch Inc., a Colorado Corporation, and DVR. LLC, on May 12, 2011, by Donald Schutte, a Tucumcari attorney representing the commission, according to court documents.

Schutte declined to comment.

The injunction asks the court to prohibit Ute Lake Ranch Inc., from selling, leasing or otherwise conveying any interest in real property encompassed in Ute Lake Ranch's subdivision Filing No. 1.

In July of 2010, the commission received sworn written complaints from lot owners at ULR setting forth a number of complaints, including allegations that ULR Inc. had violated the commission's subdivision ordinance and did not make full disclosure concerning the ULR subdivision.

The violation was concerning the water availability, quantity and quality for domestic use in the subdivision.

Water testing data from 2003-2004 from one existing well at ULR demonstrated the water quantity was insufficient to provide sufficient flow for domestic use and that the water quality was unfit for human consumption, according to the county's lawsuit.

Lawyers for ULR, however, dispute the allegation.

There is no scientific data or evidence that there is not adequate potable water at ULR other than the complaints filed by the lot owners, said Jim, Kreutz, lead counsel for ULR.

Kreutz said the commission only has water analysis from one well at ULR. He said ULR officials have numerous reports that show there is potable water with the use of a reverse osmosis system.

Though the lawsuit alleges the existing ground water at ULR would require extensive treatment, either by the ULR subdivision or individual lot owners.

Kreutz said the water at ULR is not bad. Like any other well drilled in New Mexico, lot owners will just have to install a reverse osmosis system, he said.

Kreutz said a lot owner could purchase a reverse osmosis system and it's not a complicated system to install.

The injunction argues that ULR officials were required by both state law and county and county ordinances to file a disclosure containing information about the water conditions at the subdivision. However, when ULR began solicitation for sales of the lots as early as July 2004, they had issued no such statement, the county alleges.

A disclosure was not filed with the Quay County Clerk until Feb. 2, 2007.

Kreutz said a new disclosure statement will be issued in the near future and will contain information about the water characteristics available at the subdivision and the cost of fixing those issues with a reverse osmosis system.

The lawsuit charges ULR officials were aware at the time of they submitted the final plat for approval that existing ground water at ULR was not suitable for domestic use without further treatment and failed to disclose that information to the commission.

Kreutz said approval from the preliminary to final and amended final plat for ULR was reviewed and approved by the commission.

"This is still an ongoing case a matter of pending litigation for the Quay County Commissioners and I am unable to comment until this matter is resolved," said Richard Primrose, Quay County manager.

The suit alleges when the final plat was approval by the commission, they were lead to believe ULR officials had made suitable arrangements to provide drinkable water to the individual lots by use of a community water system.

The request for injunction calls for the following relief;

  • Complete compliance with the Quay County Subdivision Ordinance and New Mexico Subdivision Act.
  • An order requiring that respondents offer concessions to any purchaser of the lot(s) prior to Fed. 1, 2007.
  • An order requiring Ute Lake Ranch Inc. provide potable water to lot owners who do not wish to rescind their purchase. Or in the alternative, for the appointment of a receiver to take control of Ute Lake Ranch Filing No. 1 and arrange for the installation of necessary infrastructure and liquidation of assets or arrange financing to secure installation of infrastructure.
  • For relief as may be necessary to comply with the Quay County Subdivision Ordinance and the New Mexico Subdivision Act.

The next hearing is 9 a.m., on Dec. 21 at Tenth Judicial District Court in Tucumcari.

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