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Lawsuit against Colorado Springs and the state alleges new House bill favors developers

Lawsuit against Colorado Springs and the state alleges new House bill favors developers

Lawsuit against Colorado Springs and the state alleges new House bill favors developers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – A lawsuit filed this week against the City of Colorado Springs and the state Attorney General’s office alleges that House Bill 24-1107 “chills” people’s rights to petition the government in the form of an appeal against property development.

The law passed in late May requires citizens who want to appeal certain land-use decisions to also pay the city or state’s legal fees if they lose the petition against a developer, in addition to their own. It does not require developers who want to file petitions on land-use decisions to pay the same fees.

The lawsuit documents allege that the law unfairly favors developers and is a violation of constitutional rights because it places a heavier financial burden on interested residents who want to apply for major developments happening nearby.

“We believe that we should be able to appeal bad decisions that our leaders make,” said Dana Duggan, co-founder of Westside Watch and Integrity Matters. “It’s really a reflection of our fundamental rights as Americans to have that kind of power to object when the government makes mistakes.”

Westside Watch and Integrity Matters are two of several plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleges that the bill’s lead proponent is David William Foster, a registered lobbyist for his own law firm and the Colorado Contractors Association, who receives more than $16,000 each month for lobbying work for the association.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Miranda Spindel, says that because HB24-1107 passed, she will not be able to apply for a major development to take place in her Fort Collins neighborhood if the process does not go as planned.

The lawsuit alleges that supporters of the law say it will help prevent “frivolous” land use appeals across the state.

However, Spindel and Duggan strongly disagree on that point.

“We already have legislation in place today. Judges have the authority and power to address frivolous lawsuits,” Duggan said.

“There have been 11 appeals filed statewide in the last two years. Of those, I think four were successful. The other four were not. And maybe one or two were dismissed,” Spindel said.

For Spindel, it’s not just about protecting his neighborhood but also protecting his rights.

“It’s not just my neighborhood in this development. This is happening all over Colorado. So citizens should have the right to say, ‘Hey, I think this is wrong. I think something was inappropriate or was interpreted incorrectly,'” Spindel said.

The City of Colorado Springs told KRDO13 they do not comment on pending litigation.

KRDO13 also reached out to the Attorney General for comment on Sunday, but he did not respond by the time of this writing.