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Reservoir fight may be averted 

What was shaping up as a dramatic showdown over land for a Southern Delivery System reservoir might be called off

What was shaping up as a dramatic showdown over land for a Southern Delivery System reservoir might be called off, pending a deal for 791 acres southeast of Bradley and Marksheffel roads.

The city of Colorado Springs identified the area for the Upper Williams Creek Reservoir several years ago, and it was included in the Bureau of Reclamation's 2009 Record of Decision on SDS. But a year later, landowners Robert Norris (the original "Marlboro Man"), his son Steve and grandson Steven began planning their own reservoir.

They scored a victory in May when the El Paso County Planning Commission recommended approving a special district service plan for the Marlborough Metropolitan District, whose formation would allow them to acquire land and build the reservoir.

County commissioners have been slated to consider the Planning Commission recommendation July 9. But that might not happen if negotiations between the Norrises and Colorado Springs Utilities — which were ongoing as of press time — lead to an agreement. Such a deal would likely also keep Utilities from seeking immediate possession of the Norris land, for which a court hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday, July 3.

Norris family attorney Robert Duncan tells the Indy that Utilities has offered the State Land Board $10.3 million, or $9,000 per acre, for its 1,140 acres of land on the reservoir site. That offer is slated to be considered by the Land Board on July 11.

Duncan also says the city's original appraisal of the Norris property last year set a value of $12,500 per acre. But after Utilities met with the appraiser, court documents show, the figure dropped to $5,500 an acre. Using that figure, Utilities offered the family $4.3 million for its land, which the Norrises rejected.

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