Colorado Mountain College case is not supported by facts, says gas company
Ryan Summerlin February 23, 2013
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A local judge is being asked to move ahead with a civil trial over a dispute between Colorado Mountain College (CMC) and SourceGas, a natural gas supplier, even though CMC believes the case should be dismissed.
In a motion filed Feb. 18, attorneys for SourceGas and its partner, Rocky Mountain Natural Gas, argued that the foundation of CMC’s case is not supported by the facts, and asked District Judge James Boyd to deny a CMC motion for summary judgment, or dismissal.
The case currently is set for trial starting June 26.
At issue is last year’s decision by the CMC board of trustees to declare invalid a lease for roughly five acres of college property.
The lease, arranged by former CMC president Stan Jensen and his staff, was to allow SourceGas to build a compressor station along a natural gas line that crosses college property.
The company says the compressor station is needed to maintain the correct pressure on natural gas supplies headed for the Eagle Valley.
After public opposition to the compressor station erupted last year, the college trustees decided the lease was not valid because they had not made a formal “finding” that the land was appropriate for leasing and was not “immediately needed” for college purposes, as provided under state law.
District Judge Boyd ruled last August that, because the college is a “public entity” under state law, he could not force the college to allow the compressor station to be built.
But he did not rule that the lease itself was void, and the trial now is based primarily on the question of whether monetary damages are due to SourceGas for expenses incurred in engineering and planning for the compressor station.
In the Feb. 18 motion, SourceGas and its partner, Rocky Mountain Natural Gas, argued that the trustees had delegated authority to negotiate leases to Jensen, and that Jensen had passed that authority on to his staff.
That, the company maintains, made the lease valid, prompting SourceGas to spend considerable amounts of money on engineering and planning for the compressor station.
According to the motion, Jensen informed the board at a board retreat in May 2011 that SourceGas had proposed building the compressor station on college property.
Jensen, at that meeting, described the terms of a lease being negotiated with SourceGas, and got the board’s permission to proceed with the negotiations, according to the motion.
The motion cited statements by Jensen, current CMC board president Glenn Davis and former CMC board president Stanley Orr in support of the company’s arguments against dismissal of the case.
Given this evidence, the SourceGas motion continues, the judge should deny CMC’s attempt to have the case dismissed, and should instead let it proceed to trial.
The CMC response to the SourceGas motion had not yet been filed on Feb. 22.