Town looks at outside counsel to help defend 
against lawsuit

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File photo of Snowmass Village town hall, taken on Oct. 12, 2011.

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

File photo of Snowmass Village town hall, taken on Oct. 12, 2011.

Related Colorado received its long-sought vesting rights extension for Snowmass Base Village at a Snowmass Village Town Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, but the legality of the process has been called into question.

Related Colorado received its long-sought vesting rights extension for Snowmass Base Village at a Snowmass Village Town Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 6 2014, but the legality of the process has been called into question.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – The town of Snowmass Village will hire outside legal counsel to defend against a lawsuit filed this week by citizen Richard Goodwin.

Because town attorney John Dresser represents the body of elected officials, Dresser “inherently can’t represent council because they are split (on this issue). It puts him in a poor position,” said town manager Clint Kinney.

The suit, filed Oct. 28 under the Colorado Rule of Civil Procedures 106, alleges that ex-parte communications by two council members tainted the Oct. 6 vote that gives developer Related Colorado four more years of vesting for its Base Village project. Goodwin seeks to have the vesting decision overturned.

The legal fees will be submitted to the town’s insurance company, according to Kinney, who said he doesn’t know when the case will be heard in district court.

Mayoral candidate Jason Haber said he hopes a decision is rendered in a timely manner.

“By exercising his right to challenge that action, Mr. Goodwin has invoked state and local codes, which are in place to provide the checks and balances necessary to ensure that local leaders act with procedural discipline, without abusing their discretion, and within the bounds of their jurisdiction,” he said.

Haber added: “The community has expressed a strong interest in moving the Base Village toward completion and I hope the court will complete a timely review that allows the council and applicant to determine the necessary steps to continue on that path.”

Obligations weren’t met

The allegations of substantive communication held outside the public forum are just one facet of the suit. Goodwin has consistently maintained that a prior town council did not meet its obligations under Ordinance 21, the original 2004 agreement between the town and Brush Creek Development Co. (which was controlled by Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest). Goodwin’s former attorney outlined some of these allegations in a June e-mail to Dresser.

Those obligations were to include written consent by the town when the property was sold to Base Village Owner (a Related subsidiary), as well as completion of public improvements (including the roundabout, Wood Road upgrades and storm water drainage improvements) prior to Nov. 3, 2014.

“The town did not provide the required prior written consent for Intrawest/Brush Creek to assign the vested property rights to BVO,” Goodwin’s current attorney, Tyler Voboril of Edwards, wrote.

Goodwin said he believes elected officials purposely ignored his allegations in a rush to extend the project’s vesting prior to a new council taking over this November. During a council meeting in October, Mayor Boineau admitted that he hadn’t responded to Goodwin’s multiple letters and e-mails.

Neither Related (including its subsidiary, Snowmass Acquisition Co.) nor Aspen Skiing Co. are named in Goodwin’s filing. Spokesmen for both Related and SkiCo declined comment for this article.

Goodwin denied that the suit is a way to force the municipality and developer to rethink how fees in the Base Village metro district are assessed. He added that concerns about the Base Village metro district taxation, which supports $47.5 million in bonds, are addressed in a separate suit filed by Bruce Smith and 29 owners of Capitol Peak condos against Related Companies.

“I think the metro district is unfair, but it’s not my motivation,” Goodwin said.

Instead, “Richard Goodwin vs. the Town of Snowmass Village” focuses on alleged ex-parte communication as well as obligations that were promised and not met under the original Base Village agreement.

“There are 10 milestones that were not achieved. The ordinance is invalid,” Goodwin reiterated this week.

Editors note: Madeleine Osberger runs the Snowmass Desk for Aspen Journalism in collaboration with the Aspen Daily News, which published this story on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Follow Osberger on Twitter @Madski99.

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