TOAV officials see Montana ruling as a victory (August 20, 2015)

Court denies Carlyle Group’s attempt to halt valuation process of Mountain Water Co.

APPLE VALLEY — Town leaders were elated Thursday upon hearing recent news out of Missoula, Montana, that the valuation process of Mountain Water Company will not be halted despite a motion made by the Carlyle Group.

Like Apple Valley, the city of Missoula is attempting to acquire its privately owned water company, and town council members reported feeling further justified in their acquisition attempts as a result of this week’s ruling.

The Carlyle Group’s motion to stay the valuation process of Mountain Water Company was initially denied by a district court, and that ruling was upheld by the Montana State Supreme Court, according to a Wednesday report in the Missoulian newspaper.

We are very happy for Missoula, Mayor Pro Tem Barb Stanton told the Daily Press. It’s such exciting news that a court in another state has seen the need for the people to have control of their water.

The town is about a third of the way into the lengthy process of acquisition, according to Stanton, while Apple Valley is in an earlier stage of the same process.

The town has sought to buy Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., but AVR has repeatedly stated it is not for sale. Like the Montana case, the two sides are likely to end up in court.

We (Apple Valley) are on the same journey as Missoula, Stanton said. Hopefully we reach the same outcome. It’s good for the community.

Park Water Company — owned by the Carlyle Group — is the parent company of both AVR and Mountain Water Company, and Park’s CEO Christopher Schilling sees the Montana high court’s ruling differently.

Any speculation about any outcomes there (in Missoula) and the impact in Apple Valley would be inappropriate, Schilling told the Daily Press via email. Apple Valley Ranchos and Mountain Water Company are two different water utilities serving different customers in different states. Because a potential eminent domain process by the Apple Valley town government to seize the assets of Ranchos will be long, costly and divisive, no one wins.

The Montana Supreme Court’s decision gave Missoula the right to purchase Mountain Water Company through eminent domain, and valuation proceedings are scheduled to begin Nov. 2 in a hearing that will attempt to place a value on the utility, according to the Missoulian.

Eminent domain is a potential avenue of acquisition for Apple Valley. Town officials received word last month that Ranchos rejected the town’s initial purchase offer, Robinson said.

We are certainly watching what’s going on (in Missoula), Town Manager Frank Robinson told the Daily Press. It looks like they are well ahead of us in the (acquisition) process. I would feel pretty confident that more decisions will come down in the next few months that will bode well for Missoula.

Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press