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City of Lafayette v. Town of Erie Urban Renewal Authority

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

June 14, 2018

City of Lafayette, a home rule municipality and a Colorado municipal corporation, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Town of Erie Urban Renewal Authority; and Town of Erie, Colorado Defendants-Appellees.

          Boulder County District Court No. 16CV30791 Honorable Norma A. Sierra, Judge

          Hamre, Rodriguez, Ostrander & Dingess, P.C., Donald M. Ostrander, Richard F. Rodriguez, Stephanie Ceccato, Denver, Colorado; Williamson and Hayashi, LLC, David Williamson, Boulder, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant

          Waas Campbell Rivera Johnson & Velasquez LLP, Darrell G. Waas, Mikaela V. Rivera, Denver, Colorado, for Defendants-Appellees

          JUDGMENT AFFIRMED

          FOX JUDGE

         ¶ 1 This dispute stems from the attempt by the City of Lafayette (Lafayette) to condemn a parcel of land owned by the Town of Erie (Erie). Lafayette appeals the district court's order granting Erie's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Because the record supports the district court's finding that Lafayette had an unlawful motive for the condemnation, we affirm.

         I. Background and Procedural History

         ¶ 2 Lafayette, a home rule municipality, and Erie, a statutory town, were signatories to the East Central Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), a comprehensive plan that sought to maintain some rural development as community buffers. The agreement lasted from 1994 to 2014. Lafayette and Erie were also signatories to the Super IGA - a comprehensive development plan for Boulder County. Erie and Lafayette withdrew from the Super IGA in July 2013.

         ¶ 3 After the two IGAs ended and the land along Highway 287 was no longer designated for rural preservation, commercial development by Erie and Lafayette ensued along Highway 287. The map below shows the relevant corridor of Highway 287. The Tebo property is part of unincorporated Boulder County. Lafayette annexed Weems, a residential community. The Safeway above Nine Mile Corner - the property at issue - is in Erie. Beacon Hill, located below Nine Mile Corner, is residential property within Lafayette.

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          ¶ 4 Erie formed the Town of Erie Urban Renewal Authority (TOEURA) in 2011. In 2012, TOEURA purchased the Nelson property and the Kuhl property - together, they form Nine Mile Corner. Erie annexed Nine Mile Corner from TOEURA in 2015.[1]

         ¶ 5 In 2013, Erie commissioned a geotechnical investigation of the property which determined that the property was suitable for development. Two blight studies commissioned by Erie, in 2012 and 2015, found that Nine Mile Corner was a blighted area. Erie then began to develop an urban renewal plan for the property. Erie, TOEURA, and the Nine Mile Developer signed a disposition and development agreement on March 22, 2016.

         ¶ 6 Erie hired a consultant to examine the property and identify potential tenants, including King Soopers. King Soopers had a location in Lafayette, but it had developed a larger store prototype. In early 2016, Lafayette became aware that King Soopers might relocate to open a larger store. In February 2016, Lafayette engaged in discussions to keep King Soopers (and its corresponding tax revenue) in Lafayette. Lafayette offered King Soopers a potential development site north of the Walmart on the west side of Highway 287.

         ¶ 7 In May 2016, Lafayette's city council passed an ordinance declaring, "[a]cquisition of [part of Nine Mile Corner] is necessary for the public purpose of open space and benefits associated with open space, as well as preservation of Lafayette's local and unique character, and buffering of Lafayette from development activities in neighboring communities." Lafayette determined it would condemn twenty-two acres of the southern portion of Nine Mile Corner to create an open space community buffer and leave the remaining twenty-three acres of Nine Mile Corner for Erie.

         (Image Omitted) [2]

         ¶ 8 After attempting to purchase the property, [3] Lafayette filed its petition in condemnation and motion for immediate possession in July 2016. Erie responded by filing a motion to dismiss arguing that Lafayette's condemnation lacked a proper public purpose, thereby depriving the court of jurisdiction. After a two-day evidentiary hearing, the ...


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