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Erie Approves Nine Mile Deal with Lafayette, Despite Concerns

January 23, 2019
Trevor Krupske, with Fulcrum Construction Group, prepares the exterior wall of the future 24-Hour Fitness building Tuesday just south of the Nine Mile Corner in Erie.

Erie leaders on Tuesday approved the town’s half of a sweeping intergovernmental agreement with neighboring Lafayette, a deal that would settle years-long litigation over the Nine Mile Corner development and set the stage for a decade of post “border war” relations.

It wasn’t without some parting shots.

A stipulation in the deal that would allow a 250-foot buffer on the property’s southern border could compromise the larger tenants at Nine Mile, according to Tyler Carlson of Evergreen Devco, the developer behind the project — a wrinkle that left a bad taste in the mouths of at least two trustees Tuesday.

“It’s completely unjust what Lafayette did,” Trustee Dan Woog said ahead of a failed motion to table a vote on the agreement, “they slapped us in the face and I think we’re caving.”

Lafayette’s efforts to condemn 22 acres at the southeast corner of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road currently awaits a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, and throughout, Erie’s development has sat in limbo.

According to the specifics of the deal — which would require an approval still by Lafayette leaders in the coming weeks before it’s made official — Lafayette would drop its lawsuit in exchange for a buffer on the property’s border that it sought with its condemnation.

However, Carlson told trustees Tuesday that the conservation easement likely would continue to hinder how the development moves forward.

The buffer will “absolutely impact my company’s ability to deliver what we said were going to deliver, nature of tenants we will be able to bring the project with these type of restrictions.

“Is the spirit to allow Nine Mile to move forward or is it to highjack Nine Mile,” he asked of Lafayette’s intentions. “That’s what this (current deal) does in my mind.”

Original plans suggested the development was slated to host a 130,000-square-foot superstore, a 130,000-square-foot home improvement store, an 18-pump gas station and at least 35,800 square feet of retail and restaurant space. It’s unclear if the proposed IGA changes those dimensions.

In June, an appellate court upheld a Boulder County District judge’s ruling that while Lafayette sold its proposed condemnation as a play for an open space buffer, it had acted in “bad faith,” and its true motivation was to halt Erie’s Nine Mile Corner retail project.

Lafayette will pay Erie $460,000 in attorney fees as part of the agreement.

“Lafayette admits to no wrongdoing,” Trustee Scott Charles lamented Tuesday. “They purposefully obstructed our ability to move forward with this project.

“There is no love lost between us and Lafayette,” he added. “While it’s nice to get along, they have significantly indicated that they haven’t cared to get along. They got what they wanted out of this.”

Woog and Charles were the sole “no” votes on the deal’s approval Tuesday.

Lafayette officials said that they would wait to comment on the deal until city leaders convened next month on the specifics of its half of the agreement.

If Lafayette approves its half of the deal, it will draw a line across the county dictating where each can develop and annex — known as “influence areas” — in the years ahead. Erie will govern the area roughly north of Arapahoe Road and East of 119th Street, while Lafayette gets the south and west side.

A provision of the influence area stipulatesthat both communities would disclose “any and all instances in which they are approached by landowners” who are seeking annexation into the other community.

Additionally, both communities would “commit that they are not currently pursuing any annexations” within the other’s influence areas.

“Any application or other proposal for annexation or development on any parcel within 2,500 feet” of the other’s influence area would be referred to the other community in writing, according to the deal’s specifics.

Another provision would clear up two lingering access disputes, allowing Erie to construct a three-quarter intersection at the Nine Mile entrance along U.S. 287, which previously had been denied because of Lafayette’s recently installed traffic signals less than a mile down the road.

The second would allow for Erie to construct an access at its new Parkdale development.

The deal’s last provision proposes that if Lafayette were to annex a Stephen Tebo-owned property at the southwest corner of U.S. 287 and Arapahoe Road and eventually develop it with commercial space, Erie would be entitled to 40 percent of the sales tax revenue.

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

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