LovelandPolitics.com BLOG
All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only.
Staples Farm Open Space Proposal In Question
photo

In a stunning lack of common sense or ethics, the Loveland City Manager, Don Williams, told the local media that the Council decided (following a closed meeting) not to buy Staples Farm for open space. According to Councilors, no such desicion was made. Williams is now defending himself by saying the comment was a negotiation tactic and not true.




The idea to purchase Staples Farm for open space was first proposed by John P. Lewis, local real estate broker and land use expert/author, when the council was considering an application to annex and zone the property. Lewis, who also is a member of the city's Open Lands Advisory Commission, suggested the city explore acquiring the property by using the open lands funding received by the state and Larimer County to resolve the differences between the investment group looking to develop the land and adjacent property owners.

However, Brian Hayes, the city staff responsible for advising the commission and Mayor Pielin are being accused of manipulating the process to the point where the option was never allowed a fair hearing before the commission.



In addition, a number of angry citizens have contacted LovelandPolitics to say the Mayor was playing both sides of the fence. He met with the investors and promised to help them develop the land while also pretending to support the open space plan when meeting with the Save Staples Farm supporters.



Now the Save Staples Farm group is promising to raise the question again at another City Council meeting to force Councilmembers to make the decision in public (as required by law) instead of in private. The city has access to $6.6 million to acquire open space but Pielin has said he wants it saved for another piece of land not to be disclosed - ugh...more secret governing when those decisions are supposed to be made during public meetings.


2008-07-23 13:55:57 GMT
Comments (11 total)
Author:Anonymous
I think this is a symptom of a larger disease. One of duplicity, secrecy and a complete lack of regard by a city manager to the public process. He is always trying to control the message instead of letting people speak for themselves. Democracy is by its nature messy while dictatorships are neat and tighty when making desicions. Don prefers the latter.

To my knowledge, nobody on the City Council directed Don to say what he did since no decision was made that night due to insufficient information being presented to council.

Don’t over-interpret things here. Don Williams is way out on the skinny branches on this one. He needs to first get consensus from council before he talks to the press.

Just like Grand Station and the trolley. He announced the city's support before talking to council. Not everyone was happy with that approach.

--One Who Knows
2008-07-23 16:24:26 GMT
Author:Anonymous
Don Williams is fond of saying that if it don't have ducks to shoot it ain't no good for open space. That is because he is a duck hunter and in his Williams-centric world view, that is what everyone should value. That would be his criterion. I have not seen any ducks on this propoerty so I would not expect him to support its acquisition.
--One who knows the Don
2008-07-23 23:47:19 GMT
Author:Anonymous
One thing is sure and that is whatever solution Williams pushes it will be secret and outside the public's knowledge or view.

I was told they bought the property for $800,000 so the profit they get will be huge. I also understand they are trying to decide if one house per acre makes a development profitable.

Anyone who needs thirty investor to buy a single piece of property worth less than $1 million must be recruiting investors in a trailer park. Each person has so little invested it doesn't matter to them really.
--Tole
2008-07-24 04:31:45 GMT
Author:Anonymous
One thing is sure and that is whatever solution Williams pushes it will be secret and outside the public's knowledge or view.

I was told they bought the property for $800,000 so the profit they get will be huge. I also understand they are trying to decide if one house per acre makes a development profitable.

Anyone who needs thirty investor to buy a single piece of property worth less than $1 million must be recruiting investors in a trailer park. Each person has so little invested it doesn't matter to them really.
--Tole
2008-07-24 04:32:26 GMT
Author:Anonymous
I don't know why the city manager's opinion is important here. The city counsel makes the policy and he is supposed to implement that policy.

Buying Staples Farm for open space is a policy decision not a staff decision.
--Grace
2008-07-24 13:24:34 GMT
Author:Anonymous
Grace, I am not sure myself what is going on. I talked to someone on the council who said they made no such decision and that Virginia Lucy is wrong. They said Don's comment was only that no decision was made that night but he never said what they will or will not do in the future.

So now I am confused because the Staples Farm web page says a decision was made by council as does the Coloradoan and others.

I know first hand from at least three councilors that it isn't true. They say the council authorized Williams to continue negotiating a price but also explore paying the owners to build only 1 house per acre. They also said it is legal for them to decide this in secret sessions since it is a property negotiation.

Sorry, I don't want to make even more confusion but just wanted people to know what I was told along with others in city hall.

Thanks
--Kyle
2008-07-24 14:05:50 GMT
Author:Anonymous
Grace, I am not sure myself what is going on. I talked to someone on the council who said they made no such decision and that Virginia Lucy is wrong. They said Don's comment was only that no decision was made that night but he never said what they will or will not do in the future.

So now I am confused because the Staples Farm web page says a decision was made by council as does the Coloradoan and others.

I know first hand from at least three councilors that it isn't true. They say the council authorized Williams to continue negotiating a price but also explore paying the owners to build only 1 house per acre. They also said it is legal for them to decide this in secret sessions since it is a property negotiation.

Sorry, I don't want to make even more confusion but just wanted people to know what I was told along with others in city hall.

Thanks
--Kyle
2008-07-24 14:06:04 GMT
Author:Anonymous
Kyle, it sounds like you are much closer to the source but I am hearing basically the same thing. The only difference is the group of investors apparently paid way too much for the property and therefore are looking for the city to bail them out. Even if allowed to develop the property they stand to lose money.

What the Council needs to do is put this issue on their open meeting agenda, have a public hearing, and give the City Manager direction in public. If the investors in Staple Farm become greedy, the city can still annex the property but instead of making it residential estate - just zone it open space as a city ordinance.

The owners will than have the right to demand compensation since lowering the zoning to "open space" use only destroys much of its value. It is called a "taking" under the law.

An equitable adjustment will be the city paying the investors about 80% of their purchase price (since they can still use it as open space) instead of the 140% of their purchase price which is what they are demanding.

The council has all the leverage they need in the negotiation without whispering in secret about their next move. The closed sessions are being used to protect the Councilors who want the entire property developed from public damage when the Staples Farm advocates find out what they really are trying to do.

Don't forget the investors did not buy land that has been zoned for development. It is still in the county and doesn't get zoned until after it is annexed. Today it is zoned as a farm and the city master plan show what it might be but not what it will be.

They do not have the right to force the city to "upzone" rural land. Anyone who tells you they have a "right" to develop it doesn't understand the law or city planning.
--Walter
2008-07-24 14:26:10 GMT
Author:Anonymous
A little advice-i tried to read the letters from virginia and didn't get the point. Why not try and reduce the information a little more to maybe 3 or 4 primary points and leave the rest out about the parks and rec directory and city manager. Walter, you should also make shorter posts since nobody reads more than 3 paragraphs anymore.

I appreciate and support what Virginia is doing but want to caution her about crossing people who can be very helpful to the cause.


--Donny
2008-07-24 17:21:18 GMT
Author:Anonymous
I feel betrayed. They told us all that night we would not see many houses on that farm. They must have just wanted to make us go away until they could figure a way to pull the rug out from under us.
--Jan D. R.
2008-07-26 01:53:40 GMT
Author:Anonymous
Jan, the point I think is the council DIDN'T make any decision yet and is still listening. Williams was just angry he didn't get his early retirement package passed council and decided to make them look bad. This isn't my theory but that of a number of people in the city so i thought I would write it here so others can read it.
--JJ
2008-07-26 05:29:39 GMT
Add to My Yahoo! RSS