From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The Colorado Supreme Court vacated a Pueblo District Court order that would have required Colorado Springs to pay Pueblo County rancher Gary Walker more than $500,000 in costs in a legal dispute over Southern Delivery System.
The order, issued last week, throws out former District Judge Victor Reyes’ Dec. 4 decision to award Walker Ranches $387,000 plus 8 percent annual interest since 2011 for costs leading up to a trial that has been postponed several times. That amounted to about $509,000.
Reyes retired at the end of last year.
Reyes issued a supplemental order that the payment was binding because of Colorado Springs’ 1041 land-use agreement with Pueblo County that prevents “undue financial burdens” for Pueblo County residents affected by SDS.
The state Supreme Court directed Pueblo District Court to determine costs after a trial to determine the value of the easement for SDS across Walker Ranches. The trial is scheduled to begin in April.
Colorado Springs had argued legal costs should not be negotiated until after the trial concluded, while Walker’s lawyers said costs were incurred even as Colorado Springs sought delays for trial.
Walker has not made a request for payment under the 1041 agreement from Pueblo County commissioners, and the county is not a party to the dispute over payment, said Ray Petros, special counsel for Pueblo County.
Walker and Colorado Springs are miles apart on the value of the SDS pipeline easement. Colorado Springs contends it is worth $100,000, while Walker’s attorneys filed documents indicating damage to the ranches as a whole from the pipeline is $25 million.