City Attorney Helps Developers Avoid Scrutiny

In the category of making lemonade out of lemons Lakewood City Attorney is seeking to turn the political debacle involving the City’s “gift” to the Rooney Valley developers into a back-door green light to develop Dino Ridge, Bandimere and the remaining open areas of Rooney Valley.

In 2007, Lakewood gave $3 million and Jeffco gave $6 million to a developer group (Green Tree metro district) to build the freeway interchange at C-470 and Alameda in order to facilitate development of the Rooney Valley. To get it through public scrutiny it was described as a “loan” that would be paid back by the new residents that were enticed in. However, it was never intended to be repaid and was quickly forgotten.

A decade later, during November’s de-TABOR election, critics questioned why the City should retain the citizens’ TABOR refunds when there was millions of dollars owed the City from the developers. At first the City claimed it was not a loan that needed to be repaid but rather an “investment”.

Now the developers in collusion with the City Attorney have come up with a scheme to either get out of the loan repayment or better yet, use it as a way to get around the legal requirement the City approve any changes in the “special districts” they created in the valley.

The developers want to expand their current districts (Big Sky and Green Tree) to create a regional sewer provider to allow for the development of the remainder of the valley. However, in order to do this they have to apply to the City for a modification in their original service plan that only authorized services in properties within the City borders.

They are now proposing a “settlement agreement” to the current court case that does NOT pay back the original 2007 loans but rather offers a new promise to pay back sometime in the next couple decades.

In return for yet another promise to pay back the loan, they want the City to give up its oversight requirements and allow the developers to merge the two special districts. The settlement further specifies IF the new district is not allowed to exploit local water districts to facilitate their sewer-provider plan then they won’t have to pay back the new loan promises.

So the deal is IF the City gives them everything they want now (the blank check to turn a public utility into a profit-making business) in return they will make a new promise to pay back the loans someday.

And the City Attorney is saying this sell-out is in the “best interests” of Lakewood citizens.

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