Eagle mayor votes on Haymeadow business despite promise | VailDaily.com

Eagle mayor votes on Haymeadow business despite promise

Yuri Kostick
Karl Nielsen |

EAGLE — So much for the promise to step down on Haymeadow issues.

On Tuesday night, Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick voted in favor of an admittedly non-controversial fence issue detailed as part of the Haymeadow annexation development agreement. Town Board member Doug Seabury did recuse himself from the vote, but briefly participated in the discussion of the issue.

While the fence issue was not particularly noteworthy, Kostick’s vote was because it violated a provision of a stipulation agreement he signed with the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission.

The stipulation concluded a 2015 ethics investigation by the commission concerning a trip Kostick and Town Board member Doug Seabury took to meet with Haymeadow developer Alan Cohen. The pair did not disclose their trip plans to fellow board members or town staff and when they returned, they learned their actions violated Amendment 21 of the Colorado Constitution.

In its final report, the ethics commission investigation concluded the following:

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“The trip taken by respondent was in violation of the ‘gift ban’ provision of Article XXIX. However, respondent immediately repaid the amount he believed was owing; and subsequent to the filing of this complaint and education by IEC staff, he repaid the additional sum of just over $200. Respondent admits his violation, and there does not appear to be present harm. At this point the issue of future harm appears to be speculative and it appears that respondent and the town have taken steps to limit that effect including through respondent’s recusal on any Haymeadow affairs.”

Tuesday’s vote falls under the heading of “any Haymeadow affairs.”

“My comment is they agreed to abstain from any Haymeadow discussion or voting,” said Mike Stevens, the Eagle resident who filed the ethics complaint. “If they didn’t, they are going back on their agreement with the ethics commission.”

As for enforcement of the recusals, it is not a matter of law. In an email exchange with Amy Devan, executive director of the Colorado Ethics Commission, Stevens questioned future involvement in Haymeadow votes by Kostick and Seabury.

“The (Independent Ethics Commission) cannot bar either individual from participating in Haymeadow. They have voluntarily done so. The (commission) cannot intrude on the local functioning of town government. However, they are both on record as stating they will no longer be involved in Haymeadow business and they are recused,” Devan responded.

Common sense solution

The topic for discussion Tuesday night was a requirement in the Haymeadow annexation agreement that requires the developer to build a wildlife-friendly fence separating his property from adjacent U.S. Bureau of Land Management property. At the time the Town Board negotiated the Haymeadow deal, members wanted to make sure they didn’t repeat a problem that arose at Eagle Ranch. At Eagle Ranch, the town has to construct a fence when cattle from the neighboring BLM lands found their way into the neighborhood.

Scott Schlosser, the local representative for Haymeadow owner Alan Cohen, applied for a wildlife fencing materials grant to comply the town’s regulation but approached town officials questioning the necessity of a northern boundary fence, noting the BLM grazing allotment in the area has not been used in recent history and is less likely to be used because of development of the Haymeadow lands.

John Staight, Eagle open space coordinator, confirmed that the BLM Salt Creek grazing allotment was poor quality and unlikely to be used in the future. When Staight contacted officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, they expressed the opinion that no fence is preferable to a wildlife friendly fence. Staight suggested the town defer the requirement for the fence construction until the Haymeadow construction begins. That way, Staight reasoned, the town could decide if the fence was necessary.

In their discussion of the issue, the Town Board agreed with that notion, with the caveat that they might require the fence construction if a large number of pirate bike trails result. They voted unanimously, with Kostick participating and Seabury abstaining, to send a letter to the developer saying the fencing issue could be deferred until construction begins at Haymeadow.

The full text of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission stipulation agreements with Kostick and Seabury can be found at http://www.vaildaily.com.

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