When lawyers use the phrase "eminent domain" they're referring to a government entity's power to condemn and take away an individual's property. The Golden Urban Renewal Authority (GURA) is currently attempting to construct a multi-level parking garage on a vacant lot southeast of Clear Creek and struggling to put up a strip mall on the site of the old Mitchell Elementary School. Unfortunately, somebody else's property is in their way. The following documents were obtained by Bill Simpson as part of his standing Colorado Open Records Law request for copies of the packets distributed to city council members before their meetings.
Windholz & Associates
Attorneys at Law
TO: Mayor and City Council
FROM: Jim Windholz
RE: GURA/1101 Washington
DATE: July 9, 1999
Enclosed is a copy of a memo from GURA's attorney, Paul Benedetti, requesting City Approval and cooperation for the acquisition of property related tot he access to the old Mitchell School site project.
cc: Mike Bestor, Dan Hartman, Steve Glueck
Paul C. Benedetti
Attorney at Law
July 6, 1999
James Windholz, Esq.
1650 38th Street, Suite 103 West
Boulder, Colorado 80301
RE: Carr Property; 1101 Washington Avenue, Golden, Colorado
Dear Mr. Windholz:
I am writing this letter on behalf of the Golden Urban Renewal Authority. We have had several conversations about the shed located behind the above property (the "Property"). The shed is a two-story 4,800 square foot former lumber storage shed built in 1935. the lower level of the shed is accessed by a door on the north side of the building facing 11th Street. The lower level of the shed is in the flood plain. The east wall of the shed is approximately 100 feet long and rests (apparently) exactly on the west line of the north-south alley behind the Property.
The City and GURA are cooperating to rectify flood plain problems in the area. As part of the work, it will be necessary to raise the grade of the north-south alley that is east of and adjacent to the shed. The grade of 11th Street will be raised as well. This work will block the north facing door of the shed by raising the level o the alley and its intersection with 11th Street approximately 8 feet so that access to the lower level of the shed will be blocked. The lower level of the shed is rented to a tenant for storage purposes. the upper level of the shed is accessed y small, man-sized doors facing west toward the parking lot behind the main property.
As part of a proposed solution, GURA and City staff have proposed removal of the shed, a raising of the back portion of the Property with fill dirt to the same level as the new alley and 11th Street, [sic] This solution may have some benefits to the Property that offsets any damage from removal of the shed.
GURA has had several exploratory conversations with the owner of the Property attempting to arrive at a settlement for any damage. Mr. Hartman of the City staff has advised that the only practical solution is removal of the shed. To provide a basis for settlement, GURA has retained an appraiser to provide an estimate of the value of any damage to the Property caused by removal of the shed.
GURA has received an estimate of the contributory value of the shed at $20,000. The owner has suggested she will consider settling for $100,000, but has not been definite about compensation. It does not appear that a settlement on any reasonable basis is possible without authorizing and pursuing eminent domain.
The schedule for the flood control work means that the problem must be addressed as soon as possible. The GURA Board recognizes that the City and GURA must work cooperatively on this matter.
The City Council would have to approve the filing of an eminent domain action whether GURA brings the action or the city does. This being the case, the superior condemnation power of the City would make the case less of a question legally and may actually help reach a negotiated settlement. Because it is work in the street and alley that requires removal of the shed, there is a solid legal basis for the City to exercise its power of eminent domain. GURA proposes that the City authorize you to file an eminent domain action on behalf of the City in which GURA will join as a petitioner. GURA will pay all required fees and costs and is willing to conduct the necessary negotiations in cooperation with your office. In addition, I am available to help in any way you and the City see fit.
Please review this request with the City staff and Council and advise me of the City's response to this request. GURA and this office stand ready to cooperate with the City and your office to accomplish the necessary flood plain improvements in downtown Golden.
Very truly yours,
Paul C. Benedetti
cc: Steve Becker