Property owner sues city over Wheat Ridge annexation denial
KYSO Corporation, the owner of property that was proposed for annexation into the city for the Wheat Ridge development, has filed a lawsuit against the city over its denial of annexation.
In the complaint, filed April 8, KYSO asks the court to deem the city’s actions as unconstitutional and in violation of KYSO’s private property rights and that KYSO be awarded compensation for the property.
KYSO is Dan Huestis and owns about 227 acres near the east side Walmart and Malmstrom Air Force Base.
The property owner requested to annex about 21 acres into the city for the development of 37 residential lots and three mixed use lots for the first phase of Wheat Ridge Estates.
The Wheat Ridge developers are not a party to the lawsuit.
Last spring, the city planning board voted to recommend that the City Commission approve the annexation.
Last month, after several delays, the City Commission voted 5-0 to deny the annexation.
City staff had recommended denial from the beginning over concerns about public safety, transportation connectivity, storm water and compatibility with Malmstrom’s operations.
In the lawsuit, KYSO alledges that the city’s basis for denial was tied to the conflict with the Joint Land Use Study that looked at land development issues as they related to Malmstrom.
The commission found that KYSO’s application conflicted with its support of the JLUS, according to the lawsuit, and “the commission also found that KYSO’s application for annexation conflicted wiht the city’s desire to be well positioned if Congress passed future legislation to change Malmstrom Air Force Base’s mission.”
KYSO alleges that the city is violating its property rights by taking private property for public use to protect the potential for future military missions.
In the complaint, KYSO’s attorney wrote that the company and the Wheat Ridge developers first submitted their notice of intent to seek annexation for the property in 2006. In 2008, a bond request was on the ballot as to whether purchase the land to protect the base from encroachment. The ballot asked voters to approve a $3.265 million bond, but the measure failed.
KYSO’s lawsuit argues that since the government is preventing it from annexing and developing, the property owner should be compensated.
According to state law, annexation is discretionary for local governments.
Much discussion in the public meetings on the annexation request centered around Malmstrom, but was just one of city staff’s reasons for recommending denial.
Staff discussed concerns about the strain continued development was putting on public safety resources and in the case of Wheat Ridge, storm water was a major concern.
The city is currently involved in litigation and defending itself against claims of more than $2 million in damages from L. Johnson Corporation in the Gibson Flats area. The lawsuit was filed in 2015 and was referenced in staff reports and presentations during the public meetings on the Wheat Ridge proposal and included in The Electric’s stories on the proposal. The claims are due to alleged damage to the corporation’s property from drainage issues from prior developments in the area within the city limits.
This spring, Gibson Flats has flooded again and several residents are claiming that the city’s stormwater system is to blame. City and county officials are meeting next week to discuss the stormwater concerns.
City staff also raised concerns over public safety resources and emergency response times. In recent years, fire and police officials have become more vocal about their concern about continued city growth without additional staffing, equipment or resources to provide the level of service they believe residents expect.