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BRIGHTON — Seven Sons Auto Salvage has been in business for more than half a century with no end in viability in sight, except the one looming in from the outside. …
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BRIGHTON — Seven Sons Auto Salvage has been in business for more than half a century with no end in viability in sight, except the one looming in from the outside.
It is what saddens Seven Sons Auto Salvage owner Jeffrey Elms the most. He says plans to build a sewage treatment plant where his auto yard has withstood 50-plus years will force him out of business. It’s not the first time for Elms. He says the city of Brighton has been trying to push him out for nearly a decade. But closure seems inevitable this time as the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District moves forward with plans to convert 90 acres near the junction of U.S. 85 north of Weld County Road 2 into a wastewater campus of treatment facilities, holding ponds and storage tanks on the banks of the South Platte River. The plant may eventually serve 750,000 area residents throughout the Denver metropolitan area, when it reaches full build out beyond 2015. It’s small consolation for Elms. He opposes dislocating the literally hundreds of his neighbors to the south in the Sylmar Manor mobile home court, and the handful of businesses that dot the proposed build site.
“The thing that is most irritating, is why not just across the road?” Elms said, indicating the south side of WCR 2. “That property is already vacant.”
Literature provided by the district at a recent open house claimed that, after analyzing 11 sites in the northeastern part of the service area, the site that includes Seven Sons “clearly stood out as the best.” Some of the reasons for the site selection included no “unnecessary acquisition of agricultural land, the elimination of seven pumping stations and the greatest public support.” The reasons ring hollow for Elms. He says he has no intention of surrendering his 20-acre spread, complete with well-stocked fishing pond, to any developer, municipal or otherwise and having to do so under the threat of do-it-or-lose-it makes the situation all the more bitter.
Elms is not alone. Several landowners facing unwanted sales are making noise and say they are under pressure to accept deals from Metro Wastewater or face condemnation of their property under state eminent domain statutes.
“Nobody wants to sell,” Elms said. “But, if they don’t, (Metro) will condemn it.”
For most, the deals offered by Metro are losing propositions as Metro is under no obligation to pay for any improvements to the land, including structures.
Portions of a letter dated Jan. 13, 2010 and addressed to Elms, spell out the district’s policy and intent for the land takeover, leaving little room for interpretation.
“As you know, the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District desires to build, operate and maintain a wastewater treatment plant and related facilities on real property believed owned by you,” the letter states.” “The Metro District seeks to acquire all interest in your property but does not intend at this time to acquire any interest in subsurface oil and gas, or other similar mineral rights. Any man-made improvements, fixtures or personal property that are located on the land may be removed by you, but anything remaining on site upon transfer of possession to the metro district will be considered to be abandoned.”
For a small business owner like Elms, that is simply too big of a write-off to recoup.
“As it stands, they are not going to move me, and they are not going to pay for my inventory,” he said. “They say they don’t have to. Nothing for the buildings. Nothing. The inventory, I will end up crushing it. There is stuff here that is irreplaceable. That’s just sad.”
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