Jun 17, 2011 7:47 PM by David Ortiviz
Construction is underway on a 62-mile underground pipe through Southern Colorado. The Southern Delivery System will provide water for thousands of people for years to come, but it's going through some private properties and a few people think they're being cheated out of their land.
Lavetta Kay lives in a peaceful home in Pueblo West, with a 5-foot wide pipeline going in through her backyard. "SDS has taken so much of my property they leave me no place to build. My intent was to build a garage," said Kay.
The billion dollar pipeline project will transfer water from the Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West. The issue--the pipeline will intersect more than a hundred properties. Land owners are being compensated, but some say they're not being offered enough money. "I'm not going to let them bully me and take my property and give me peanuts for it," said Kay.
Kay was offered $5,300 for her easement, however she wants triple that amount. Kay points out land owners won't be able to build any permanent structures above the pipeline. "(Realtors) said my property won't be able to be sold. It's stigmatized," said Kay.
The Southern Delivery System says the offers they've made to land owners are fair. "We basically pay almost the full value of what it would be if we were to purchase a strip of that property out right," said Janet Rummel, a spokesperson for SDS. Rummel says they are paying 90% of the property value and the homeowner will still retain the land. Rummel says they'll also restore most of the original landscaping and even pay for kennel fees during construction. "There's a lot of things that we can do to work with property owners to limit that impact on them," said Rummel.
Rummel says they've reached an agreement with most property owners, but they're at an impasse with about ten of them like Kay who think they're being ripped off. Rummel says SDS will still get to use the land through eminent domain. "The court will come in decide what we should pay these property owners and they will be compensated," said Rummel.
Kay says she simply wants her fair share. "I intend to fight SDS to the bitter end," said Kay.
Kay and the other homeowners are scheduled to settle this dispute in court later this month.