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Lafayette OKs Nine Mile Agreement, Signaling Path Forward for Landmark Deal with Erie

February 6, 2019
Trevor Krupske, with Fulcrum Construction Group, prepares the exterior wall of the future 24-Hour Fitness building in Lafayette at a site just south of the land where Erie wants to develop the Nine Mile Corner project.

Lafayette City Council approved its half of an intergovernmental agreement with Erie to settle litigation over the Nine Mile Corner development, signaling a desire for renewed relations with its estranged neighbor even as some Erie officials have shown reluctance.

The deal — one officials say was originally borne out of a meeting late last year between two transitioning administrations eager to end years of combativeness — would address several issues that have nagged the bordering communities as Erie has tried to bring a multi-million dollar project to the corner of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road.

Apart from a litigation settlement — a costly lawsuit for which Lafayette has agreed to return $440,000 in attorney fees to Erie — the deal also would drop two disputes over Erie access permits, draw “influence areas” across the county dictating where both communities can annex and develop in the coming decade, and regulate revenue sharing on a piece of Stephen Tebo-owned property along the communities’ border

The deal represents “an opportunity for a paradigm shift in an unnecessarily adversarial relationship with a neighbor,” newly appointed Mayor Alexandra Lynch said Tuesday.

Councilwoman Chelsea Behanna echoed that sentiment, adding that the restored relationship could extend to dealings with prospective developers.

“I also think it cannot be overstated enough that we can come together and take back the power developers think they can get over us because they think they can pit us against each other,” she said.

Tuesday’s vote does not necessarily settle matters. Erie’s urban renewal authority, a partner on the negotiations, last month tabled a decision on the pact after Nine Mile Corner developer Tyler Carlson expressed some apprehension.

Carlson told Erie trustees the agreement’s proposed 250-foot buffer likely would drive away some of the larger anchor tenants the company was pursuing for the project.

It’s unclear what the deal’s future is with Erie’s urban renewal authority hoping to renegotiate some of the more notable clauses, though the authority is scheduled to take up the deal again next week, official say.

The deal approved by Lafayette Tuesday includes some new stipulations: An additional clause drafted by Erie trustees would require Lafayette to cooperate with Erie in finding a location for an above-ground water storage facility “on or near the Tebo Parcel and within the boundaries of Lafayette.”

Another change proposes that if Lafayette acts as the issuing authority for further access permits on U.S. 287, the city must agree “it will not unreasonably withhold approval for access permits related to improvements to the U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road intersection.”

If the pact is officially approved in the coming weeks, officials say it could truly signal a new day for the two communities on the cusp of their respective administration changeovers.

“We need to be able to collaborate with Erie in meaningful ways,” Lafayette Mayor Pro-Tem Jamie Harkins said prior to Tuesday’s vote. “I’m looking forward to building that relationship back up again.”

Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, hahna@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn

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