Granby sticks to appointments despite threat of lawsuit
Granby’s board meeting grew heated as town trustees debated the merits of two demand letters that have the board evenly split.
The issue relates to three appointments to the developer-controlled Headwaters Metropolitan District. John Gillogley, Colleen Hannon and Lee Sprigg qualified to join the Headwaters board in December but were passed over for appointment — a move the trio argue was illegal — and are pursuing legal action against.
Instead, Headwaters appointed Ashley van Dissel, Brian Melody and Bryan McFarland as directors on Feb. 10 after they qualified for the board earlier that month. Van Dissel and Melody work for the contractor that operated Granby Ranch’s golf course last summer while McFarland is the founder of a nationwide development firm.
In a 4-3 vote on Feb. 23, Granby’s town board conditionally appointed the three homeowners if the current members of the Headwaters board were found to be illegitimate.
On March 23, the legal representation of Headwaters and Granby Ranch owner GP Granby Holdings sent letters to the board demanding the town retract those conditional appointments. The letters argued that the town board was acting outside its scope of responsibility.
In a written response, the lawyer for the three homeowners pointed out that the town board has no precedent to rescind appointments and doing so could lead to litigation on behalf of the conditionally appointed trio.
The town manager advised trustees on Tuesday to stick to their decision, as taking back an appointment could set an unintended precedent down the road.
Headwaters and GP Granby Holdings also raised issues with Trustee Natascha O’Flaherty’s vote on the issue, saying that she has a conflict of interest. O’Flaherty’s husband serves on the board for Granby Ranch Metropolitan District, which has initiated a separate lawsuit against Headwaters.
O’Flaherty has maintained that no such conflict of interest exists. She hired her own private attorney, Eric Liebman, to look into the ethical allegations against her.
Liebman testified at Tuesday’s board meeting that he found no authority for the conflict of interest allegations, arguing that a familial tie is not enough to justify the complaint. He added that most ethical complaints with familial ties have some sort of monetary interest, which he said does not exist here.
The board moved to go into executive session to receive legal advice from the town attorney, voting 6-1 with O’Flaherty dissenting. O’Flaherty asked her personal attorney be part of the executive session, but the other board members disagreed.
Escalating tensions began to devolve into an argument with the town manager eventually stepping in to redirect the conversation. Following a 30-minute executive session, the board came out and explained possible next steps.
Because the agenda item was listed as a discussion, not a decision, the board had the option to vote next meeting on rescinding the appointments. The trustees then voted 4-3 against bringing the topic back, with trustees O’Flaherty, Chris Michalowski, Kristie DeLay and Mayor Josh Hardy in the majority.
With no action to come at the next meeting, the conditional appointments will remain as they are, which could mean a lawsuit against the town board if GP Granby Holdings follows through on its threats.
In other business:
• Trustees reviewed the authorized unissued debt for the metro districts in Granby Ranch, which includes Headwaters, Granby Ranch Metro District and Granby Ranch Metro Districts 2-8. The reports for Granby Ranch Metro District and Headwaters, which asserted that the metro district has no authorized unissued debt, were accepted without the optional hearing the town board can hold.
The trustees voted to move forward with a hearing for Granby Ranch Metro Districts 2-8, which appear to be authorized for $1.5 billion in unissued debt per district. The board sought more information on these possibly enormous figures and will hold the hearing at the May 11 board meeting.
• The board appointed Mark McLaughlin and Christie Horn to the parks board and Jenny Mann to the public arts committee.
• Trustees also approved a new cleaning contract with Chase Escapes, which offered an hourly rate of $45 and a weekly cleaning cost of $630.
• Following a few months experimenting with a lunchtime workshop to address trustee questions, the board has elected to stop the session and instead pass on questions to staff through other means before the meeting.
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