Peak 7 homeowners file lawsuit against county commissioners over proposed paving project
FRISCO — A group of Peak 7 neighborhood homeowners filed suit against the Summit Board of County Commissioners in Summit County District Court earlier this month. The plaintiffs are seeking to nullify the board’s decision to put a question on November’s election ballot that, if passed, would create a local improvement district to fund road paving in the neighborhood.
The complaint is in regard to ballot Measure 1C, a controversial paving project to be voted on by Peak 7 residents and homeowners next month. The complaint alleges constitutional and due process violations and asks the court to remove the plaintiffs’ properties from the proposed local improvement district. The lawsuit was brought by homeowners Mark Pappas, Melissa and Eli Snell, and Sharon Henkels.
The county commissioners have until Oct. 24 to respond. Summit County attorney Jeffrey Huntley said that in cases like this, the county typically will either admit or deny the allegations. From there, Huntley said, the two parties will engage in pre-trial proceedings.
The complaint is largely focused around the estimated price for the paving, which will be incurred by the homeowners of the neighborhood. The complaint states that the cost estimate given to the neighborhood in the original petition to pave the roads was $5.6 million.
When divided among the 335 landowners, the cost per home would come to about $16,716. Later in the process, this estimate was increased to $6.66 million, which would cost homeowners about $19,866 each, plus interest if the homeowner could not pay the cost upfront.
The complaint argues that a revised petition should have been circulated for approval by the neighborhood since “significant material differences exist between the original petition and the final design and probable costs.”
In the complaint, the plaintiffs cite language in Colorado Revised Statute 30-20-603-2B, which reads:
“If the owners of property to be assessed for more than one-half of the entire costs estimated by the board to be assessed shall petition for any particular kind of improvement and for any particular materials to be used in the same, the improvement must be ordered in accordance with the petition, and the materials so designated shall be used, except as otherwise provided in this section.”
The argument is whether the cost difference between the original petition and the current estimated budget is within the legal confines of the above statute’s requirements.
Attorney Meredith A. Quinlivan, of West Huntley Gregory law firm, is representing the plaintiffs and alleges the process taken by the county commissioners in forming and moving forward with the local improvement district did not match statutory policies and procedures.
“The position of the three plaintiffs is this: The process was invalid,” Quinlivan said. “We’re asking the court to find that the creation of the LID was invalid.”
Quinlivan also cited Colorado Revised Statute 30-20-601, which states the requirements for the creation of a local improvement district. The statute states that proposed improvements have to be authorized by an adopted resolution. State statute is fairly vague on what exactly it means to adopt the resolution.
The county requires 60% of homeowners benefiting from the proposed improvement to begin the process of creating a local improvement district, a threshold that initially was met. However, when the estimated cost for paving was raised, some homeowners wished to rescind their signatures, which would have brought the signature count to below 60%.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking an injunction from the court to stop the ballot measure and/or start over with the creation of a local improvement district in the Peak 7 neighborhood.
“We want the county to admit that there may have been some items overlooked in the process of setting up the LID and dissolve this LID, and if the people that want to pave want to continue to try and pave, then they need to try again in a transparent way,” Pappas said.
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