Nominal tracts of land — 10 percent of one-third of an acre each — of Eagle River Station property were conveyed to three area residents recently so the development could form its metropolitan district board of directors.With the conveyance, Roxie Deane, Terrill Knight and Chris Williams were qualified to join ERS property owners Vince and Cinda Riggio on the metro board. Eagle River Station is a commercial/residential project proposed by Trinity RED Development headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The 88-acre site is located south of Interstate 70 and north of U.S. Highway 6 on the east end of Eagle. The ERS proposal will include 582,000 square feet of commercial space and 250 rental units in its first phase, along with the new east Eagle I-70 interchange and improvements to U.S. Highway 6 and Chambers Ave. A second phase of the development calls for up to 150,000 square feet of additional commercial space and another 300 rental units. Last May Eagle voters approved the plan during a special referendum, a flip-flop from a 2010 vote when voters rejected the plan.“Eagle River Station Metropolitan District currently comprises vacant land, all of which is owned by a corporate entity, Trinity RED Eagle Development, LLC (the Developer). Therefore, there are no individual residents or property owners to serve on the district's board of directors.” said Mary Jo Dougherty from the law firm of McGeady Sisneros, general counsel for the new metro district. “As required by law, after notice of vacancies was published in the local newspaper, each of the present directors has been qualified as an eligible elector.”“This is what you do when the developer owns all of the property (in a new metro district area). Without exception that is the common practice.” said Debbie Braucht of Robertson & Marchetti in Edwards. The local firm has been involved with many similar cases, including formation of the Eagle Ranch Metropolitan District where Blake Riva, Jim Adams, Mark Smith, Harry Frampton and Willis Wright comprised the initial metro district board.Dougherty added that once seated, the board is a quasi-municipal corporation and political subdivision of the state of Colorado. “In other words it is a local government that is subject to most of the same laws that apply to cities, counties and other types of special taxing and improvement districts,” said Dougherty. “These include laws governing open meetings and elections. The district's directors are public officials and, as such, are subject to laws governing elections and conflicts of interest that apply to other elected officials such as state legislators, city council members and county commissioners.”In a blog that was posted last week but has since been taken down from her site, Eagle Trustee Brandi Resa raised questions about Deane's appointment, noting that she was previously a member of the Eagle Town Board. Deane did not seek re-election to the town board last spring and she has not served as a town trustee since April. Deane said in July, three months after she had left the Eagle Town Board, she was asked to serve on the ERS metro board.“With respect to specific questions regarding director Roxie Deane, the contract that qualifies her as an eligible elector is dated Aug. 31, 2012. Because her qualification as an eligible elector and subsequent appointment to the Eagle River Station Metropolitan District Board of Directors occurred after her term on the town council expired, her past service on the town council does not constitute a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest under the applicable statute,” said Dougherty.Metro district board members are not paid nor do they receive other compensation for their service.
Dougherty also noted that metropolitan districts, are distinguished from many other governmental entities in that state law has special provisions regarding who is eligible to vote in elections and, as eligible electors, may serve as directors. Under the Special District Act (Article 1, Title 32, of the Colorado Revised Statutes) an “eligible elector” is defined as a person who is registered to vote in Colorado and (a) resides in the district or (b) owns or is the spouse of someone who owns property within the district, whether or not such person resides within the district.The definition of eligible elector additionally provides that “a person who is obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property” within the district shall be considered an “owner.” The Colorado legislature enacted this provision in recognition that all or most of the property within new districts and non-residential districts, is often owned by corporate entities rather than individuals. As required by law, Williams, Knight and Deane submitted memorandums that disclosed potential conflicts of interest or private interest and those forms are filed with the Colorado Secretary of State prior to each board of directors meeting. Disclosures include any actual or potential personal, financial, private or other interest that may constitute an actual or potential conflict of interest that may impinge on the director's fiduciary duty and the public trust with respect to an issue, contract, purchase, payment or other financial transaction that may be considered by the board.