Overlook Park owners in foreclosure
Routt County Public Trustee Jeanne Whiddon confirmed Friday that a foreclosure notice has been filed against the owners of the planned Overlook Park subdivision, adding a new wrinkle in the questions surrounding construction of Gloria Gossard Parkway on the city’s west side.
Steamboat Realtor Norbert Turek, who represents Overlook developer Jay Weinberg, said his client already has submitted to the city funds representing 9 percent of the cost of building the first phase of the new arterial road as well as promising just more than $1 million for the construction of the second phase of the parkway into Overlook Park and to obtain rights-of-way from the West Acres Partnership.
“My client doesn’t have the money right now to build the second phase of the road, but I work on finding new investors every day, and I continue to believe in the project,” Turek said.
Whiddon said Alpine Bank has foreclosed on the property, and it is scheduled to go to a foreclosure sale Dec. 8.
The project, a planned development of as many as 150 modest single-family lots on 70 acres, would be built between West Acres Mobile Home Park and the Steamboat 700 land farther west, a project that stalled early this year when voters in Steamboat rejected an annexation agreement. The subdivision does not have its final approvals from the city.
Steamboat Springs The city and the residents of West Acres Mobile Home Park seem destined for a 2011 district court date in their dispute about whether the mobile-home owners are entitled to compensation for reduced property values stemming from the loss of a greenbelt for the construction of Gloria Gossard Parkway.
City of Steamboat Springs attorney Tony Lettunich confirmed Friday that the city has decided not to take an August Appeals Court ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court. However, he said the city would continue to contest the homeowners’ eligibility for a financial judgment.
“We plan to proceed to the legal issue of whether the tenants are entitled to any compensation under current law, and if they are, what that compensation should be,” Lettunich said.
Lawyers John Grassby and Vance Halvorson represent the homeowners. Grassby said the Appeals Court ruling that gave his clients the right to intervene and join a related compensation case by Steamboat Springs businessman C.D. Johnson, combined with a September ruling in the Johnson case, puts the homeowners in a strong position.
“It’s really a matter of how much,” Grassby said about the money he thinks his clients are due.
Based on individual appraisals of the homes in West Acres, he asked for $400,000 to settle the case, but the city countered with an offer of $40,000.
Grassby said he’s mystified that the city hasn’t already settled the matter amicably. He contends he’s established that the loss of the greenbelt on the northern boundary of the neighborhood significantly has reduced the value of the homes there.
Should his clients win in court, they will be due predated interest on the amount of their award that he calculates already exceeds $80,000 and continues to accrue at $2,667 per month. In addition, he said they would be due attorneys fees (currently about $40,000) if the award exceeds $52,000.
The Aug. 5 Appeals Court ruling reversed a May district court ruling in Steamboat that denied the homeowners’ petition to join Johnson’s case against the city. This month’s Appeals Court ruling in the Johnson case establishes that “the proper measure of damages of the city’s taking was the value of (Johnson’s) property before the taking compared to the value of his property after.”
That ruling applies to the mobile-home owners’ case, Grassby said.
West Acres is a 30-year-old neighborhood of 92 households set amidst mature trees bordering sagebrush- and serviceberry-covered hillsides.
The Gloria Gossard Parkway is a new arterial road that began construction in 2009. It is intended to provide a link to new residential subdivisions that were in the works before the Great Recession took hold of Steamboat’s real estate market. Most homeowners express their wishes that the road not be built, fearing the noise they say will shatter their peaceful community. However, their attorneys convinced them that they couldn’t stop the road; they could only hope to be compensated for any decrease in property values.
In order to begin construction, the city undertook condemnation proceedings in 2008 on a piece of Johnson’s utility yard for his excavation business on Downhill Drive as well as the dedicated West Acres green space. The city acquired stewardship of the open space easement from Routt County when the neighborhood was annexed into the city.
Steamboat reached a settlement with the mobile-home park owners, West Acres Partnership. Its dispute with the homeowners hinges on the question, “Do the mobile-home owners, who do not own the real estate under their homes, have a right to be compensated?”
Grassby and Halvorson contend that their clients sustained a loss in the value of their homes and leases.
District Court Judge Shelley Hill disagreed in May, writing that the homeowners did not have standing because they do not “own the dirt under their feet.”
Lettunich told the Steamboat Pilot & Today in August that he had an obligation to look out for the interests of all city residents and not pay a $400,000 settlement if the West Acres residents were not entitled to it.
Grassby said this week that it would be up to him and Halvorson (the latter also represents Johnson) to go back to district court after Oct. 12 and ask the court to set a trial date. The two lawyers were discussing this week whether to ask for a change of judges, he said. Hill declined to discuss the case when contacted for a story in August.
It’s likely because of the crowded court docket that a trial date would not be set until 2011, Grassby said. But he said he would like to see the date set sometime after May, when the snow melts.
“I think it’s important to get a jury up there and walk the area,” Grassby said.
It’s also not unlikely, Grassby said, that the judge assigned to the case would urge lawyers to settle the matter outside of a trial.