Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Colorado Municipal League sides with city in Strawberry Fields lawsuit

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 10:03 AM

click to enlarge Opponents of the Strawberry Fields land swap demonstrate near The Broadmoor last year. Their lawsuit remains on appeal. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Opponents of the Strawberry Fields land swap demonstrate near The Broadmoor last year. Their lawsuit remains on appeal.
The Colorado Municipal League has filed an amicus brief in the Strawberry Fields case, which is pending a decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Save Cheyenne, a nonprofit formed in 2016, opposes the city's trade of the 189-acre Strawberry Fields open space to The Broadmoor in a deal in which the city acquired trails and wilderness acreage from the resort. Here's a story about the case. ("Strawberry Fields argument filed with appellate court," The Wire, June 6, 2017)

Save Cheyenne sued the city but lost its bid to block the trade, approved by City Council by a 6-3 vote in May 2016,  in district court. The group then appealed.

The property in question was acquired by the city in1885 after voter approval. Save Cheyenne maintains, among other arguments, that the land can't be sold or traded away without voter approval.

The city has asserted its home-rule powers as enabling it to do the deal with The Broadmoor.

Now, the CML has weighed in, with a brief filed July 31, saying its 269 members — including 101 members that operate under home rule authority — have a stake in the outcome of the lawsuit. From its brief:
This case is of particular importance to home rule municipalities statewide. The authority to dispose of city-owned property, including park property, is critical to the ability to manage real estate portfolios for their residents based upon local needs. A decision to reverse the district court will erode home rule cities’ powers to “purchase, receive, hold and enjoy or sell and dispose of, real and personal property,” and upend charter and ordinance provisions across the state that authorize the transfer of all forms of municipal property. COLO. CONST. art. XX, § 1.
And this:
Adoption of a home rule charter in Colorado has consequences, not the least of which is that the voters have chosen to implement local self-rule. In doing so, they and their elected officials are entitled to exercise the power the Constitution gives them: the right to legislate for themselves. That local legislation, whether by charter or ordinance, takes the place of state law. It has done so in this case. This Court must uphold the right of all home rule municipalities in Colorado to govern this important local matter. The decision of the district court should be upheld.
The brief also includes an exhibit that lists home rule municipalities with express charter and/or ordinance procedures governing property disposal. Of those 31, only five require an election. They are Arvada, Aurora, Grand Junction, Lakewood and Minturn.

Here's the CML's brief:

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