Clarification On The Benjamin Easement

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After hearing on the radio that my family’s business is for sale and that we are unwilling to cooperate with the town of Star Valley regarding an easement across our land for the purpose of a water pipeline, we are forced to defend our position once again.

We have heard comments from the town, including “Since the Benjamins were instrumental in the incorporation of Star Valley, wouldn’t it be ironic if they were the ones that would stand in the way of Star Valley securing a water supply for the residents of our community.”

As most people know, Payson Water Company (Brooke Utilities) owns the exclusive franchise rights to deliver drinking water to the majority of Star Valley. So why would Star Valley entertain the idea of purchasing wells in Brooke’s franchise area when the town has no legal, financial or moral responsibility to do so? Even if the town were to purchase these wells without considering the easement issue, the town still has no place to store the water or a way to deliver it, let alone charge for it.

My family’s position has never changed.

It does not matter who wants to acquire an easement across our land. Our objection has always been based on the likely potential of our business being ‘de-watered.’ Without the water beneath our land, our property and business would be nearly worthless.

Because of the complexity of this water issue, we don’t think the majority of residents have a real understanding of what’s at stake for our family. Star Valley has verifiable data proving the communication between the Tower well and the PW1 and PW2 wells. My family’s domestic well is located right between them and all three of them are hundreds of feet deeper than ours. Unfortunately, Star Valley’s well monitoring program has been irresponsibly left to die so residents can’t see the current data linking these wells. Keep in mind that fractured granite has limited storage and questionable recovery, so the old saying regarding wells “the one with the deepest straw wins” has my family more than a bit concerned.

On July 13, I had what I thought was a confidential meeting with Tim Grier at his request. I chose to meet him on the Sky Run property so that he could see firsthand what he was asking my family to give up. He explained the town’s desire to own and acquire an easement for the wells next door to my property. I explained to him that giving an easement would gravely endanger my family’s property and livelihood. Out of frustration, I told Grier that “maybe the town should just buy our land and then they could put any easement across it that they wanted to.”

I also told him more than once that we really didn’t want to sell, but we felt that as long as those wells are sitting there, our family will be pestered with this easement issue. I am very disappointed that this had to be discussed on the radio.

Shortly after our efforts of a successful journey to incorporate Star Valley, we realized we were lacking one key ingredient needed with regard to the so-called water war. Our town did not own a well.

Out of all the potential donors in the newly incorporated Star Valley, the Benjamins stepped up and donated a well so Star Valley would have legal standing in court. Besides the incorporation effort, our family was involved in the formation of the Diamond Star Water Coalition, setting up and maintaining a well water monitoring program, setting up and serving on Planning and Zoning, serving on the Roads and Streets and Water Committees and serving on the Board of Adjustments.

Our family has done its share to protect and secure this community’s future water supply. There are those that are standing in the way of what this town was built on, but it’s not the Benjamin family.

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