Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jesse Murphy

Gunbarrel PID suit moves to Appellate Court


March 23, 2018

A lawsuit filed against the Boulder County Board of Commissioners and the Boulder County Housing Authority by 10 Gunbarrel property owners will now go to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The suit concerns a 1993 ballot measure that created the Gunbarrel Public Improvement District (GPID), and a statement by county officials that they would match “up to” $1.9 million towards the purchase of open space.

To date, the county has only matched $1.3 million, leading to the contention by the plaintiffs that the county still has roughly $600,000 to be used to purchase land for open space.

Dave Rechberger, the lead plaintiff in the case, said that when the county purchased the parcel of land at 6655 Twin Lakes Road, it should have been dedicated as open space, therefore fulfilling the county’s match obligation.

The county, however, turned the land over to the Boulder County Housing Authority with plans for residential housing development on the site.

“Since 2005, there have been no available parcels in the district for purchase until the North Twin Lakes field became available,” Rechberger said in an emailed statement. “This was then purchased by the county, but instead of fulfilling their obligation to the citizens, the county transferred the land to their housing authority (which the county commissioners sit as board of directors) for its own use specifically for development, contrary to the mission of the GPID (which, by the way, the very same county commissioners sit as the GPID board of directors).”

District Judge Nancy Salomone granted the county’s motion to dismiss the suit in January, stating that the “up to” portion of the match was not a binding commitment to that full amount. The county also contended that the citizens have no legal standing for a suit against the county.

“The judge in this case, stated, in part, that the County’s commitment to match the funds that were on a ballot was no more than a political promise and not, in fact, a contract to the citizens,” Rechberger said. “Does this set the precedent that all ballot initiatives are just political promises that are not contracts to the citizens? Are no ballot initiatives that we vote on legal and enforceable? That seems to cut out the very heart of our democratic systems.”

The plaintiffs are allowed one appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals as a matter of right, but further review of that decision by the Colorado Supreme Court is discretionary.


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