In split vote, town backs Granby Ranch homeowners against attorney’s advice
Despite the threat of a lawsuit, a divided Granby board decided Tuesday to conditionally appoint three Granby Ranch homeowners to the Headwaters Metropolitan District.
Lee Sprigg, Colleen Hannon and John Gillogley spoke to the Granby Board of Trustees in January challenging the actions of Headwaters and requesting the town board initiate the process to appoint directors to vacancies on the Headwaters board.
When the three became eligible to serve as directors for the Headwaters board in December, Headwaters did not appoint them even though there were three vacancies.
The town board then notified Headwaters that the town would appoint three people to the metro district if Headwaters failed to fill the vacancies by Feb. 20, which the town can do as the metro district’s authorizing agency.
Headwaters instead appointed three new candidates to the board earlier this month in a move homeowners are calling illegal. Headwaters has maintained that this move was within the purview of the metro district.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the three homeowners requested the town board consider conditionally appointing them to Headwaters if the current appointees are found to be unqualified.
Granby Attorney Nathan Krob advised the trustees that refraining from taking any action would be in the best interest of the town. He felt the overall risks of stepping in outweighed the benefits.
Krob added that after speaking to the attorneys of both sides, it is likely their dispute will go to court.
“Any action you take will probably be superseded by a court order, so a court is going to decide all these issues,” Krob said. “Whatever you do decide or do not decide probably is not of great significance.”
Krob also warned the board that even a conditional appointment could lead to litigation against the town based on his conversations with Headwaters’ counsel.
“They indicated that any sort of appointment, whether it be conditional or non-conditional, would result in a claim being brought to the town,” Krob said.
The specific claim that the town might face relates to Colorado Rule of Civil Procedure 106, which allows a party to seek relief if a governmental body has exceeded its jurisdiction or abused its discretion.
The attorney representing the three homeowners, Brian Matise, disagreed with Krob’s evaluation.
“Conditionally appointing is not the basis of a 106 action because it’s not a final action until a court decides the matter,” Matise said. “Whatever bullying the developer’s attorneys are doing, we need to stand up and properly state this is conditional.”
Matise explained that the board was being asked to give a conditional appointment because if the court finds Headwaters’ appointments were made illegally, that would bring the three homeowners “back to square one” and delay the appointment process.
Krob disagreed, stating that if the court decides the current appointments are illegal, new appointments could be made at that time.
The trustees weighed the town attorney’s recommendation and what capacity the town board had in making a decision.
“I think it’s beyond the scope of the board of trustees,” Trustee Nick Raible said. “I think if we refrain from an appointment, if the courts decide that somebody else should be on there, then they can make that decision.”
Other trustees felt the potential assistance the town could offer to Granby Ranch homeowners — many of whom have long fought to get more say in the development of their subdivision — was worth the risk.
“I don’t want to waste taxpayers’ money, but I also feel like they’re reaching out for help and we do need to support them,” Trustee Rebecca Quesada said.
The town board voted 4-3 in favor of conditionally appointing the three homeowners if the previous appointments are deemed invalid. Mayor Josh Hardy, Trustee Deb Shaw and Raible dissented.
Matise explained that before filing the lawsuit, the local district attorney would be notified. Though the action is not a criminal complaint, the district attorney has the first right to bring the suit to the metropolitan district on behalf of the people of Colorado.
If the DA declines to do so, then Matise said his clients intend to bring action against Headwaters.
This is the second pending litigation initiated this month against Headwaters.
In a separate issue, the homeowner-controlled Granby Ranch Metro District also decided to pursue litigation against Headwaters and owner GP Granby Holdings related to a series of agreements with homeowners that the new owner canceled last year.
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