August 18, 2023
Vol. 1, No. 1
Got Water Rights?
The driving force behind the Avimor Annexation
Letter By Christopher Hadden, Eagle, Idaho
What if there is more to the story of Avimor? What if the city paved the way for Avimor to grow exponentially?
The Mayor and Council recently approved the annexation of the Avimor Development in March 2023. In the final decision fully documented in the City of Eagle Findings, Facts and Conclusions; the City of Eagle approved Avimor to build 7,700 homes over 37+ years. In the public hearings the mayor, council and city staff repeatedly stated that the Avimor developer has its own water rights and that we needed to annex Avimor on the premise to “control growth” or the Avimor development. That they would indeed buildout regardless of annexation and that the City of Eagle would financially benefit by annexing. So how did we get to this point?
It all started back in November of 2021 when an email (public records request #58-2022) between Mayor Pierce and Dan Ritcher, Avimor Development Manager, revealed that the two of them appear to have been working on the Avimor Water Agreement.
Jump ahead to March of 2022, the water agreement morphed into and was titled Avimor Development, LLC (Limited Liability Company) and Sage Investment Partners, LLC, and City of Eagle.
This is where it gets interesting. The agreement does state that Avimor and Sage must supply their respective developments with a potable water system;
WHEREAS, Avimor and Sage must supply their respective developments with a potable water system; and
The agreement also confirms that Avimor and Sage will donate the system to the City of Eagle;
WHEREAS, Avimor and Sage will donate and assign to the City of Eagle Idaho Department of Water Resources (" IDWR") Permit Nos. 63- 32061 and 63- 34281 and Application for Permit No. 63- 34801; and
What the agreement also states and confirms is Avimor and Sage cannot legally apply for or own water rights for a “reasonably anticipated future need” (“RAFN”). Avimor and Sage Development water right is only for 5 years buildout under their permit. Only a municipality can legally apply for and acquire a RAFN water right allowing Avimor and Sage to build out over 37 years.
WHEREAS, the anticipated timing of the phased build out of the Avimor and Sage developments will exceed the IDWR-authorized development deadlines for Permit Nos. 63-32061 and 63- 34281 and Application for Permit No. 63- 34801 resulting in a need for assurance of long-term options to acquire or assist in the acquisition and development of water necessary for the developments. This can be achieved by obtaining water right authorization for reasonably anticipated future needs (" RAFN"); and
WHEREAS, Avimor and Sage cannot legally apply for or own water rights for a RAFN; and
WHEREAS, the City of Eagle can legally acquire RAFN water rights; and
While the said water agreement did not bind or guarantee annexation, this was the precursor or first step prior to their application. Avimor’s application for annexation was submitted the very next month in April 2022.
WHEREAS, the execution of this Agreement does not bind the City of Eagle to annex the Avimor and/ or Sage developments; and
Who is “Sage Development” you might ask which is part of this agreement? Sage Development is another 860-acre development that adjoins the Avimor Development and at some time in the future may request annexation into the City of Eagle. The agreement was signed by Todd McCauley, Sage Investments LLC Manager who also serves on the City of Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission.
Without this water agreement, Avimor would have been limited in size, left in unincorporate Ada County and we can only conclude based on their 5-year water rights and their history of only completing just 900+ homes in the last 14 years, that the Avimor community would have been significantly smaller in size estimated at 2,000 homes.
The Mayor and City Council, by signing this agreement, paved the way securing that the Avimor Development would get their 7,700 homes and 37+ year period to buildout. This agreement also opens the doors to any adjacent properties to be annexed sometime in the future.