Response From Maria Flora To CM. Kevin Flynn

On August 10 2020 some members of SOS Denver appeared at City Council during their open comment period.  Shortly after Maria Flora made her comment she received an email from CM Kevin Flynn regarding her comments. Email From Kevin Flynn

See below for the response from Maria Flora on behalf of Save Open Space Denver

 

VIA EMAIL ONLY

August 11, 2020

Councilman Flynn,

Thank you for your email. I am very pleased to have an opportunity to address the issues regarding interpretation of the perpetual open space conservation easement that protects the Park Hill Golf Course land (“the PHGC land conservation easement”) from development.

First of all, I think you would agree that the PHGC land conservation easement is not the best drafted legal document that we’ve ever seen. In fact, there are some internal inconsistencies that I will discuss below.

The starting point for analyzing the PHGC land conservation easement is the Colorado Conservation Easement Statute, C.R.S. §38-30.5-101 et seq. The conservation easement applicable to the PHGC land states explicitly that it was created pursuant to this Colorado statute. Although Clayton and its attorney Bruce James, during Clayton’s ownership of the land, and now Westside, have always wanted to try to diminish the legal effect of the conservation easement by calling it a “use agreement,” it is in fact a conservation easement created under and governed by this Colorado statute.
In relevant part, the statute defines a conservation easement as follows:

a right in the owner of the easement to prohibit or require a limitation upon…a land
area…appropriate to the retaining or maintaining of such land…predominantly in a natural, scenic or open condition, or for wildlife habitat…or recreational…or other use or condition consistent with the protection of open land, environmental quality or life-sustaining ecological diversity…. C.R.S. §38-30.5-101.

An interpretation of the PHGC land conservation easement must begin with an analysis of the conservation purposes that are consistent with this statutory definition of a conservation easement.  These overarching conservation purposes are “for the conservation of the [land] as open space” (paragraph 1) and “to maintain [the land’s] scenic and open condition and to preserve [the land] for recreational use” (paragraph 2). These conservation purposes are completely consistent with the statutory definition of a conservation easement and they are the legal essence of the PHGC land conservation easement.

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Save Open Space Denver Calls for City Council to Protect PHGC Conservation Easement

For Immediate Release

Denver, July 11, 2019 – Save Open Space Denver has been fighting to preserve the last remaining sizable parcel of green space remaining in the heart of Park Hill.  Today’s abrupt deal by local developer Westside Investment Partners to purchase Park Hill Golf Course land raises many questions. Why would a private company make a highly risky, speculative purchase of a property zoned as Open Space that is protected by a $2 million perpetual conservation easement?  In order for this deal to be profitable to Westside, the city council will surely face intense pressure to terminate the conservation easement which protects the land from development. If that succeeds, then the next battle will be over rezoning — without which Westside will have the opportunity to own a wonderful private park or golf course. With many alternative industrial properties near this land ripe for redevelopment into high density housing and retail, it is a false choice to say we must sacrifice open space to development.

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