Granby Ranch owner threatens to sue town
The owner of Granby Ranch and its associated metropolitan district are contemplating legal action against the Granby Board of Trustees.
In letters dated Tuesday from separate attorneys representing the two entities, both demanded that trustees rescind their conditional appointments of Lee Sprigg, John Gillogley and Colleen Hannon to the Headwaters Metropolitan District board.
Headwaters has long been a developer-controlled metro district that has been brought to the forefront as Granby Ranch homeowners fight for more control of the subdivision.
When Sprigg, Gillogley and Hannon became eligible to serve as directors for the Headwaters board in December, Headwaters did not appoint them despite having three open positions on the board and a call for eligible electors.
Trustees then notified Headwaters that the town would appoint three people to the vacancies if Headwaters failed to do so by Feb. 20, which the town can do as the metro district’s authorizing agency. Instead, Headwaters appointed three new directors on Feb. 10.
Sprigg, Gillogley and Hannon are pursuing litigation against the metro district, calling its action illegal. They also asked Granby trustees to conditionally appoint them to the Headwaters board if the three new directors were deemed invalid.
On Feb. 23, trustees voted 4-3 to conditionally appoint the trio against the town attorney’s advice and despite the threat of a lawsuit. The letters from Kieran Lasater, special litigation counsel to Headwaters, and Matthew Rork, representing GP Granby Holdings, announce their intention to follow through on that threat.
Both attorneys describe the conditional appointment as ultra vires, or outside the town’s power. The letters also threaten actions against trustees for individual liability.
“If and when the dispute is presented to the district court, the town will be deemed to have acted in a manner patently ultra vires to its authority,” Lasater said in his letter. “In any such action, the (Headwaters) board will seek an award of its attorney’s fees and costs, besides declaratory relief and all damages against the town and its trustees.”
Rork penned a similar line in the other letter: “While GPGH would prefer to resolve this issue amicably, I can confirm that, if the town does not rescind the ‘conditional’ appointments by April 1, 2021, and cease and desist unlawful interference with GPGH business relationships and activities, GPGH will be forced to file suit against the town and the trustees involved…”
Both letters raise additional issues with what Rork called an “undisclosed conflict of interest” related to Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty.
O’Flaherty’s husband, Glenn O’Flaherty, sits on the homeowner-controlled Granby Ranch Metropolitan District board. That board recently filed suit against Headwaters and GP Granby Holdings on a separate issue.
Lasater demanded that Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty recuse herself from any matters involving Headwaters, while Rork argued that the fact that she did not recuse herself from the 4-3 vote made the difference in passing that conditional appointment.
“If GPGH is so confident that their appointees to the board are legitimate, the conditional appointments are moot. If GPGH or (Headwaters) really believed that there was an issue, they could have raised it at or before the meeting,” Natascha O’Flaherty told Sky-Hi News via text. “In my opinion, their claims of conflict are without merit … I disclosed that my husband is on the (Granby Ranch Metro District) board and I recuse myself from GRMD matters. I don’t appreciate GPGH and (Headwaters) attorneys trying to manipulate a vote they don’t like.
“The bully tactics, actions and threats of litigation by GPGH and (Headwaters) against the residents of Granby Ranch and the Town of Granby are deeply troubling to me.”
GP Granby Holdings’ attorney went on to say that the company had reason to believe that the town’s actions related to a gravel pit may have been at the “behest of trustees pursuing their own personal interests” and interfering with his client’s rights.
Rork references a March 18 correspondence from the town manager, as Granby’s zoning enforcement officer, asking GP Granby Holdings to begin reclamation efforts on an area known as “Quarry Hill.”
Reclamation efforts were supposed to begin in 2018, according to that letter. However, the town overlooked an amendment extending the deadline to continue sand and gravel operations at Quarry Hill through 2023.
Granby attorney Nathan Krob said at Tuesday’s town board meeting that this was an oversight, and a letter was sent on March 19 retracting that demand.
Both GP Granby Holdings and Headwaters have filed extensive records requests with the town, obtained by the Sky-Hi News through the newspaper’s own open records request.
A request filed March 3 from Lasater asks for all communications on the town’s conditional appointment of the three homeowners along with any communications between any trustees and third-parties relating to the conditional appointments, among a number of other records.
According to Granby’s town manager, more than 45 hours of staff and attorney time has gone toward sorting through the 11,390 emails for privileged and relevant information. The town will likely have to cover $6,500-$8,000 of that because of fee limits on records requests, the manager said.
Rork filed two records requests to the town on March 19 for any and all correspondence between trustees or staff and a number of individuals, including texts, emails and social media communications. The requests listed 39 specific terms as they sought messages related to Granby Ranch from Dec. 5 to present.
The town is working to fill those requests. As for responding to the demand letters, the trustees made no decision Tuesday but did go into executive session for legal advice.
Rork’s letter demands the town rescind the conditional appointments by April 1, while Lasater asked that they be removed at the trustees’ next scheduled meeting. The trustees could schedule a special meeting to meet the April 1 deadline, but have not done so yet.
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