Lafayette may appeal a Boulder judge's decision last week dismissing the city's condemnation lawsuit aimed at 22 acres of Erie land, City Administrator Gary Klaphake wrote in an open letter Wednesday morning.
In a verdict handed down last Thursday, Judge Norma Sierra said the court found "no public purpose" in Lafayette's case, a decision that now frees Erie to move forward with the Nine Mile Corner development that could bring a Lowe's and a new King Soopers into the town.
Wednesday's letter comes more than a year after rumors that Lafayette's King Soopers planned to relocate to the mixed-use development on the southeast corner of Arapahoe Road and U.S. 287, which fueled initial investigations that swiftly devolved into the condemnation lawsuit.
"Erie argued in court that Lafayette's claim was all about stopping King Soopers from moving to Erie," Klaphake wrote. "While disappointed to hear that news, we know competition needs to exist. Note that King Soopers was looking to expand because the Lafayette store was over performing and too small."
Lafayette wanted almost half of Erie's 45-acre property to provide "a buffer through open space" between the towns in order to "protect Lafayette's unique community character," according to the suit filed last summer.
On Tuesday night, Lafayette's City Council approved an amendment increasing the amount of open space required for future development.
"Lafayette has, and will continue to advocate for open space buffers," Klaphake added. "And yes, open space buffers are a public purpose. In addition to open space buffers, we do not agree with our neighbor to the north on a variety of issues such as fracking, debt, unbalanced growth, and borderless land use."
Over the past several years, Klaphake told the Camera last summer, it's become increasingly difficult to preserve Lafayette's small-town character while its neighbor to the north seeks much-needed sales-tax revenue through commercial growth — a point he reiterated Wednesday.
"In Lafayette we balance growth," he wrote, "that means we bring jobs, retail, and homes along in balance to be sustainable. We further aspire to be a 'small town' and in recent years paid down our debt to approximately $38M. Conversely, Erie may have built too many homes, too fast, and now is bearing the costs of servicing those homes. As some say, are you getting the picture?
"My guess is that 25 years from now Lafayette will continue to have its charm and small town livability while Erie is entrenched in uncontrolled urban sprawl."
On Friday, Erie sent an email blast of its own, titled " Learn the Facts: View court finding in Erie's favor at Nine Mile," a note detailing the judge's ruling dismissal with an attached a copy of the court order.
"The town of Erie respects the careful, thoughtful consideration of the court and believes the court made the correct decision," A.J. Krieger, Erie's town administrator, said in response to the letter on Wednesday.
Anthony Hahn: 303-473-1422, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/_anthonyhahn
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