Monday, June 24

The Crestone Eagle is a nonprofit monthly newspaper serving Crestone and the San Luis Valley

SLVREC adjusts easements language after pushback from resident

By Amelia Stern

Earlier this summer, San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC) installed underground power lines that deviated from their road right-of-way and onto private property, affecting seven households along a 15-mile stretch of Wagon Wheel Road in the Baca. 

One resident—choosing to stay anonymous—has been fighting against the company’s new right-of-way easement, which would extend their access to a strip of land up to 15 ft. in width on either side of the power line, extending when necessary.  

The easement’s loose language didn’t feel right to the resident. “Not to mention the fact that it feels like a violation. Because again, dig first, ask later, and you’re sort of backed into a corner,” she said. 

After hiring an attorney who rewrote the easement, the resident was willing to sign only after SLVREC covered her lawyer’s fees and provided a detailed map with clarification on the new easement. 

“The new agreement removed all of the language that was not aligned with our community bylaws (such as certain types of equipment being erected), it tightened up the loose language regarding land boundary lines, and it referenced the official surveyed map as an exhibit,” she said. It also included a signature for their Chief Operating Officer Shawn E. Mckibbon.

“At first, the lawyers said they would sign the revised agreement that my attorney drafted, only if I expedited the signing,” she said. “My attorney replied that the timeline was in their hands since they still hadn’t gotten me the promised survey map.” 

After a couple weeks, SLVREC sent the detailed survey map to the resident’s attorney. 

As the resident waited to hear from SLVREC, she began corresponding and openly sharing information with another affected neighbor, who also contacted SLVREC to request the same updated agreement as her. “They contacted us both the next day to set up dates for signatures,” she said. 

For the resident, her months’ long battle is finally over. “They reimbursed all my attorney fees. They also said they would not be using the same contractor to complete their future plans for this project,” she said. 

But her main concern all along, she said, was maintaining the integrity of this community and protecting the land. 

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