Castle Pines North residents vote to abolish city’s Urban Renewal Authority
The Canyons’ representative (and ballot question 300 opponent) Darren Everett (left) joins Happy Canyon HOA president (and ballot question 300 supporter) Les Lilly (right) on Election Day. The two were spotted waving at motorists on the corner of Lagae Road and Castle Pines Parkway.
by Elizabeth Wood West with contributions from Linda Nuzum
In a nearly two-to-one vote, Castle Pines North residents voted to approve ballot question 300 to abolish the city’s urban renewal authority (URA). The voter-adopted ordinance went into effect
immediately on Election Day, November 2.
As mandated by state statute, the URA board must continue to exist for at least a six-month period to wrap up old business, but cannot initiate any new actions during this period.
At its November 9 meeting, the city council convened as the URA board and directed staff to do the wind-down actions. This included sending letters to the parties with which it had negotiated intergovernmental agreements related to the tax increment financing (TIF) revenues that would have gone to the URA. Additionally, those entities that had filed lawsuits against the city were notified. Assuming that all of the legal actions are dismissed, the URA will wrap up all activities by May 2011.
The hotly contested issue pitted citizens and grassroots organizers against council members and developers. Reaction from the city came early following the vote in a press release stating, “Voters did approve adoption of the ordinance that abolishes the Castle Pines Urban Renewal Authority. Backers of the measure objected to what they perceived as a lack of input into the process prior to its passage.”
Blight’s Not Right, the committee that campaigned in favor of abolishing the URA, stated, “We want to thank the people of Castle Pines North for demonstrating extraordinary courage in standing up to city council. This victory belongs to the people, families, and small businesses of Castle Pines North. Our community is the antithesis of ‘blight,’ and is in fact one of the most beautiful, most livable, most desirable communities in Colorado.”
Mayor Jeff Huff, who voted against formation of the URA, encouraged the citizens who had worked to abolish the URA to “keep your passion for our community, stay engaged, get on city committees, and reach out to folks who were on the other side of the campaign to help bring everyone together toward common goals.”
City Council member Kim Hoffman stated, “The vote to abolish the URA is very disappointing.” According to Hoffman, the cost to redevelop the city’s existing commercial area as it deteriorates is projected to be about $50 million during the next 25 years, and the URA had the potential to fund about $80 million. “My continued request to the mayor and the Blights Not Right group is, what is their alternative solution to make the commercial area functional, shopper friendly and sustainable? These are real questions and real solutions need to be brought to the citizens,” she stated.
Neighboring Happy Canyon Homeowners’ Association (HCHOA) President Les Lilly said, “We are very pleased with the URA election results for the citizens of the City of Castle Pines and the surrounding communities. The residents of Happy Canyon shop, work, and attend churches and schools in the City of Castle Pines, and therefore, we share common goals for our communities and families. Now that the URA has been abolished, HCHOA has filed a Motion to Dismiss without Prejudice [its lawsuit against the city], which should bring this matter to a close,” said Lilly.
The Douglas County Board of County Commissioners, who had also filed a lawsuit against the city, issued its own statement. “Throughout the duration of our discussions with the city on this issue, it was important to preserve a healthy working relationship – consistent with the culture of collaboration that exists among local governments in this county. Once it became clear that the issue would be put before the electorate, the county was equally consistent in its expression of respect for the voter’s decision, whatever the outcome. Now that the vote is in, the next steps are firmly in the court of the city council.”
South Metro Fire Rescue Authority and the city had also been in discussions regarding impacts of TIF, and had been unable to reach a satisfactory intergovernmental agreement. Fire Chief Dan Qualman said, “This outcome removes the potential difficulties that servicing an urban renewal authority can cause to a property tax-funded entity like the South Metro Fire Rescue Authority. However, regardless of the outcome it has been our intent to continue to serve the city with the best quality service we can.”
Randy Fischer, State Representative for House District 53 (and author of House Bill 1107) weighed in: “My congratulations go out to the citizens of CPN for standing up for better government, for greater transparency and accountability, for thoughtful land use planning, and for fewer taxpayer subsidies for green-field development. The election results show that a determined group of citizens can, indeed, take charge and change decisions,” stated Fischer.
The Canyons representative Darren Everett stated, “While The Canyons is disappointed the URA was abolished, we are happy to see that this issue has finally been decided by the voters.” According to Everett, the URA vote had zero impact on the zoning, planning, feasibility or timing for The Canyons. “We chose to support the URA because it was a tremendous tool for this community and we will continue to support other groups, causes and initiatives that are of great benefit to current and future residents and business owners alike,” he stated.
To read more on the history of this issue, go to www.CastlePinesConnection.com.