AP NEWS

Erie Urban Renewal Authority Tables Lafayette IGA Following Supreme Court Ruling

February 13, 2019
A sign touting the imminent arrival of Erie's Nine Mile Corner development. Litigation has stalled the project for nearly three years.

Erie’s Urban Renewal Authority on Tuesday tabled the town’s proposed intergovernmental agreement with Lafayette, potentially planning to leverage its Colorado Supreme Court victory to push for a new deal that could scale back some of the town’s more notable concessions.

The high court’s ruling — upholding a June decision to strike down Lafayette’s attempt to condemn 22 acres of Erie land at the southeast corner of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road — has essentially voided the deal’s promise to settle the towns’ nearly three-year land spat, and without it, could give Erie leaders carte blanche to rethink some of the agreement’s other facets.

The litigation has stalled the groundbreaking on Erie’s multi-million dollar commercial development, Nine Mile Corner, since 2016.

The delay in approval, and any potential tweaks to the deal itself, could threaten to derail the communities’ touted path to reconciliation after years (or decades, according to some) of hostility.

Tuesday’s decision does not necessarily suggest the deal will be entirely revamped; the authority’s vote was only to table a decision on the agreement and leaders opted not to comment. However, if a new pact is to manifest, some officials have suggested it minimize a proposed buffer between the project and a Lafayette neighborhood that Nile Mile Corner developer Tyler Carlson has criticized. It also could potentially ask Lafayette for more money in returned attorneys fees.

As the deal currently stands, Lafayette will pay Erie $440,000 in attorney fees. It also includes provisions to 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.

That latter stipulation also could be a point of renegotiation under a potential new deal.

Despite commissioners’ minimal discussion on the matter Tuesday, there was some notable dissention on the deal.

“Lafayette did not sue the town over open space,” Erie’s former planning and development director Todd Bjerkaas said ahead of the vote, “they sued over competition (along U.S. 287) and successfully delayed” Nine Mile Corner for almost three years.

He suggested it would be naive to think Lafayette wouldn’t continue to try to disrupt the development even after the deal is signed.

Both Lafayette and Erie’s respective leaderships already have approved the deal as is, but if Erie’s Urban Renewal Authority — a partner on negotiations and whose approval is required — ultimately decides to tweak the deal, the new iteration will need to return to Lafayette City Council and Erie trustees before it is officially approved.

Municipal attorneys said Monday that while the Supreme Court decision shifted the negotiating power back into Erie’s hands, it does not entirely strip Lafayette of its leverage.

If the agreement fails, Lafayette’s power lies mostly in its ability to hold up Erie’s access permits at Nine Mile’s entrance and another along Colo. 7 for its new Parkdale development, potentially hampering both their builds, officials say.

The deal is likely to return to Erie’s Urban Renewal Authority in the coming weeks.

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

AP RADIO
Update hourly