Boulder County faces second compost facility lawsuit

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Katie Langford, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
·2 min read
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Feb. 24—Two Boulder County residents are suing the Board of County Commissioners in an effort to stop a proposed compost facility from being built at the former Rainbow Nursery property south of Longmont.

This is the second lawsuit filed against the county regarding the proposal to build a compost facility at 5762 North 107th St.

Residents and nearby property owners Jeffrey and Nancy Davis are asking a Boulder district court to declare that a conservation easement is still in effect on the Rainbow Nursery property.

The Davises own a horse training and boarding facility, Reverie Farms, that's adjacent to the Rainbow Nursery property. They also live on the same property.

Boulder County purchased a conservation easement on the Rainbow Nursery property in 1994 and purchased the property and its water rights in 2018, using open space funds for both transactions, according to the county's project website.

County leaders claim that when the county purchased the property in 2018, the conservation easement ceased to exist because the two "estates" were merged.

But the lawsuit alleges that Boulder County officials cannot eliminate the conservation easement on the property and that the protections that existed under the conservation easement remain in effect.

Nancy Davis said she was blindsided when she heard about the county's plan to build a compost facility next door, particularly when she found out the scale of the proposed facility.

According to the county's project website, early plans for the facility include accepting 50,000 tons of waste per year, such as vegetative waste, food and animal manure. The county website also states it is considering accepting human biowaste, though county leaders have since stated that could change.

"We bought our farm almost six years ago, and part of why we bought here — and of course part of the purchase price — was backing to Rainbow Nursery," Nancy Davis said. "It wasn't open space at the time but it had a conservation easement on it and it was very carefully regulated on what could be done on it."

A compost facility nearby would make it impossible for the Davises to operate their business, the lawsuit claims, with noise making it dangerous to ride and train sensitive show horses and potentially exposing them to polluted air, ground water and surface water.

The lawsuit is an effort to establish that the conservation easement was done on behalf of Boulder County residents, Nancy Davis said, and "not a driveway for the county to get on its own land."

"Our lawsuit says they did not have the right to erase the conservation easement," she said.

While several Boulder County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit Tuesday Commissioner Marta Loachamin wrote in a text message that it is a quasi-judicial matter and the board is unable to discuss it.