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Land Owner and Developer Frustrated by County Council

Article Date: 
8 July, 2011 (All day)

 

The county council has been negotiating with the developers of Rollins Ranch for many months.  The owners of lots in the subdivision are caught in the middle of this ongoing problem of an unfinished subdivision that has not been accepted by the county, but has homes that have been constructed.  

The developers of Rollins Ranch ran into financial problems when the bottom dropped out of the real estate market and have not made the improvements agreed upon with the county.  Because the improvements have not been made, the county has not accepted the subdivision and has not been providing services such as snow removal.  The county has also stopped approving any building permits in the subdivision.  Homeowners in the area as well as lot owners have been frustrated with the situation.

Several months ago the county placed Rollins Ranch in default under the development agreement.  This allowed the county to pursue other remedies to the incomplete subdivision.  This prompted renewed activity by the developer to try to complete the agreed upon improvements.

Over the past few months the county engineer and attorney have been working with representatives from the developer to work out a solution.  A tentative agreement was reached and the council then was prepared to move forward in the last council meeting.  

At the last minute it was discovered that there were tax issues with one piece of property that the developer is required to deed to the county.  There was concern expressed by members of the council that if they approved the agreement that the county would lose more than $30,000 in taxes owed by the developer.  

Several years ago, when the developer was actively working on the subdivision, several million dollars of improvements were assigned to a small piece of ground in the subdivision.  When the developer received the bill they did not pay it since it seemed to them that the assessment was incorrect.  They did not, however, file the necessary paperwork to dispute the tax amount.  This small piece of property at the entry to Rollins Ranch is the parcel that the developer is required to deed to the county as a part of the agreement and on which the taxes were charged.  

The developer proposed that they pay the normal tax on the property and have the balance of the tax due be transferred to another parcel to settle the agreement.  The council, however, was unsure whether that would be possible.  

The developer has begun work to complete the required improvements even without an agreement with the county and expects to have them finished by the fifteenth of July.  “I doubt you have many developers in insolvent projects where the principles are coming back and contributing in this kind of cash and capital to make sure that the improvements get completed and building permits can be issued…there is no personal liability on behalf of the principles of these developers to do this…and they are stepping forward and doing that, “ said Robert McConnell, an attorney for the developer.  He also expressed the view that the county had statutory remedies to collect on the outstanding tax that the council was not taking into account.  He asked that the council approve the agreements subject to the county staff working out an agreed upon remedy to the outstanding taxes.

In the end the council determined to table the item for nearly a month until the next council meeting.  Council members expressed the view that they did not want to take the risk on the county losing the tax revenue.  “We’ll stop, we’ll stop work,” said a very frustrated developer after the council’s decision.  The decision also places at least one landowner who is trying to obtain a building permit on hold until the council’s next meeting.  The council will address the issue again at it next scheduled meeting on July 19.