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May 27, 2018

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Council spikes Badlands items as developer promises more lawsuits

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Christopher DeVargas

A look at the old Badlands Golf Course, which sits in a natural revine, surrounded by the Queensridge master-planned community, Monday Feb 19, 2018.

A developer who wants to build on a former golf course says he’s going to file more lawsuits over his stalled plans, which the city nixed from its agenda today.

Councilman Steve Seroka successfully moved to strike the items related to the former Badlands Golf Course from the agenda, saying the application is incomplete and the general plan amendment opening the land up for development could not be put on the agenda until after June 21.

Several audience members applauded after the vote to strike the Badlands items.

Seroka said the city’s required 12-month cooling off period applies since the council denied a similar general plan amendment on June 21 of last year. He also said a general plan amendment and a major modification would be required for plans to move forward, per a judge’s recent ruling in favor of residents fighting the project.

Lawyers for developer Yohan Lowie argued that their client has a right to have his items heard. Attorney Mark Hutchison, not speaking in his capacity as lieutenant governor but as representation for the developer, said there has been a court decision that allows development on the course.

The city also approved community engagement guidelines, which Seroka pushed for, to apply to developers who want to convert open space or golf courses, requiring a neighborhood meeting, a record of that meeting and a plan to address issues. Residents in the Queensridge community, which surrounds the former golf course, have criticized the developers in this case for not truly working with residents “in good faith” to negotiate a compromise.

Councilwoman Michele Fiore, who voted no with Mayor Carolyn Goodman on the guidelines as well as against striking the Badlands items from the agenda, said during the meeting that there are several properties in her district that the new ordinance would apply to and that it could impact current negotiations in those cases.

It’s unclear whether these new guidelines will apply to Badlands. Councilman Bob Coffin said the Badlands case should be considered separately. He said the new rules could be interpreted as somehow influencing the golf course plans. Seroka has said the council could decide to apply the rules to Badlands going forward.

Lowie told the council that another inverse condemnation lawsuit will be filed over the guidelines passed Wednesday. The city is already facing a $250,000 million inverse condemnation lawsuit from Lowie, one of several lawsuits filed in the case. Inverse condemnation lawsuits can be brought in cases where a property owner seeks compensation for a full land parcel after a government action so devalues part or all of a property, essentially making the land condemned, according to a definition provided by Cornell Law School.

“The ordinance that you just passed is so cumbersome and involves so many properties,” he said. “I know you tried to target and it’s only targeting my property, the Badlands.”