The Score is Three to One on Tabor Compliance
This is a letter to the Editor that appeared in Monday's Mountain Mail. Council will be discussing this matter on Nov. 29
To the Editor:
I read in the November 17th Mountain Mail that the NRCDC board received an expert legal opinion declaring that no TABOR violation exists on the Vandaveer loan with High Country Bank. Interestingly, that was the same conclusion that the bank's attorney arrived at, as well as an independent attorney hired by concerned citizen Alison Brown. So we have three outside experts who did not find TABOR violations. Only our city attorney, who declared at the outset he was not well versed in TABOR law, thinks we have a problem.
The attorney for the NRCDC refers to case law to support his conclusion. What cases does the city attorney use to support his position? We, the citizens, can't know because the council refuses to make that document public.
A second article in the same paper reported that the city's attorney fees on the TABOR issue were approaching thirty thousand dollars. The NRCDC apparently paid their attorney no more than ten thousand since that was the stated cap. A lot of money spent for little clarity.
TABOR law is complex and when dealing with such complexity legal opinions may vary. However, the weight of expert opinion certainly indicates that the council need not panic and create fire sale conditions that will deny we, the citizens and true owners of this property, the opportunity to reap the best return on our investment.
While I don't believe the city should be in the land speculation or development business, I do believe that the board of the NRCDC is quite correctly attempting an orderly liquidation that has the best chance to fully pay off the bank loan and quite possibly return a profit to the citizens.
It seems that the council has painted itself into a corner by prematurely creating a compliance plan for violations that don't appear to exist. The council has gone so far as to propose an auction,if needed, without a reserve. Under these conditions, it is likely that an out of town speculator will get a bargain and the city will have to contend with lost capital and lost opportunity.
Also lost in this panic is any further discussion of what we, the citizens, would like to see develop on this acreage. There has been past discussion of affordable housing or recreational uses. If this land is handed to a developer without restrictions, only the existing zoning stands between us and a future development that may damage our small town lifestyle. Do you want big box stores, acres of new homes? Or some open space and solid, planned development? Nobody is asking your opinion.
If the NRCDC board is allowed to do their job, perhaps we can pay off our loans, see a profit or hold on to some of the land for community goals. The board should be commended for standing up to the council and attempting to fulfill their fiduciary duty to their true constituents, the citizens. The council should fall in line and support the board. Enough money has been lost to legal fees. Let's get back on track.