COLORADO SPRINGS–Confusion at a Colorado Springs City Council meeting Tuesday to consider a request that the new Scheel’s All Sports store be excluded from the Interquest North Business Improvement District (INBID) lead to the council agreeing to delay the hearing.
Council members discussed issues with notice of the meeting on the petition by Interquest Marketplace LLC, the current property owner of the proposed Scheel’s store site.
Interquest Marketplace LLC is managed by Nor’wood Limited, Inc., whose executives are also the Board of Directors for INBID.
Carl Schueler, the city’s Comprehensive Planning Manager presented the petition to the council March 28 at a regular work session. In his five-minute presentation Schueler said, “we have full agreement of all parties for this exclusion.”
The matter was placed on the council’s consent agenda for June 11 with no discussion by the council members and without any public input.
As a result of reporting by Complete Colorado on May 31, Tim Leonard, president of the Deepwater Point Company, representing the owners of the new Burger King outlet and the Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, sent a letter to the City Council June 6 objecting to the proposed exclusion and disputing Schueler’s claim of full agreement.
In an interview Leonard said he was unaware of the petition for exclusion until he read Complete Colorado’s article. He said that none of the property owners or merchants in the BID he was aware of knew about the petition or the meeting.
In his letter to the council Leonard wrote, “The Board members of this District are charged with promoting the financial welfare of its 20+ landowners. However, when it’s Board members, major landholder, mill levy and PIF authorizer, bondholder, infrastructure builder, and land seller are all the same persons, the other landholders must look for fairness in the oversight of the City Council.”
State statutes require the clerk of the council to publish notice of the meeting in a newspaper of record only one time, at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
Russell Dykstra, INBID’s lawyer, provided Complete Colorado with evidence that notice of the meeting had been published in The Transcript, a sister publication of the Colorado Springs Business Journal, on June 7.
The Transcript is a print-only subscription newspaper that comes out three times a week and costs about $150 per year to subscribe to. It specializes in publication of legal notices.
A 2015 state law requires newspapers of record like The Transcript to submit published legal notices to PublicNoticeColorado, a website created and maintained at no cost to the public by the Colorado Press Association, where citizens can look up published legal notices at no charge.
A search of the website Thursday shows that the meeting notice was duly posted June 7.
Thanks to Leonard’s objection, just prior to the June 11 regular City Council meeting the matter was pulled from the consent agenda by council staff.
The consent agenda is a list of items needing final council approval that can be approved all at once at the beginning of a regular council meeting if no one voices an objection.
Most people do not know that consent agenda objections are not limited to council members.
Any member of the public can object and ask that the matter be placed on the regular agenda for discussion. Ordinarily, according to council staff, such objections must be raised at the meeting itself, when the consent calendar is called up. Objectors need to be prepared to make their presentations immediately because the council can, and usually does approve or deny the matter at that same meeting.
However, in this case, because Leonard had contacted members of the council, including Councilman Bill Murray and Councilman Don Knight, and because internal discussions had taken place, council staff notified a number of interested parties that the matter would likely be continued for two weeks, which was outside of usual practice.
Schueler, responding to an email inquiry from Complete Colorado June 10, wrote “My understanding is the hearing on this item, which was set for tomorrow, is expected to be postponed for 2 weeks at that hearing.
At the meeting June 11, concern was expressed during a 20-minute discussion by council about the staff’s mistake in telling people they didn’t have to attend. This resulted in council members voting unanimously to continue the matter to June 25, in the interests of fairness.