Click here to comment on the blog
Council Tense As They Are Reminded About Secret Meetings When
Passing Grange Addition Annexation
Mayor Fails To Call For Public Comment potentially invalidating the vote on second reading
Loveland - July 2, 2008

The Loveland City Council voted 7-2 in favor of passing a number of annexations and zoning changes and agreement amendments (see cornucopia story)  
on second reading requested by McWhinney Enterprises.  The package expands Centerra and is part of a larger scheme by McWhinney to increase its
influence over new areas of Loveland by first annexing five parcels and adding them to Centerra's New Millennium plan.  

Councilman Kent Solt announced he would be voting no since the actions they were taking was part of a larger plan with McWhinney and that information
of the plan came exclusively from the private meetings with McWhinney he called the "2 by 2" meetings.  Council members were rotated through the same
presentation with McWhinney in an attempt to skirt the open meetings laws that would have required the meetings be made available to the public.

Councilman Cecil Gutierrez asked John Duval, City Attorney, if the action is indeed linked to the upcoming proposal by McWhinney to include the parcels
being annexed in this action as part of their special urban renewal authority thus qualifying for special sales tax rebates and tax increment financing.  Duval
responded that the measure was in anticipation of the upcomng "LURA flexibility" plan but also noted the council would not be required to pass that
request.  In an awkward moment, the City Attorney assured Councilman Gutierrez that McWhinney was made aware the LURA Flexibility plan was not
gauranteed to pass council even if the current measure did pass.  This is especially telling as it directly contradicts the staff presentation on the first reading
(June 24, 2008) of the Grange Addition which asserted there "is no connection" between the Grange Addition and the LURA flexibility request.

Mayor Peilin made a number of faces while Duval spoke indicating he wasn't happy with the discussion.

Councilman David Clark asked what other possible means would the council have for passing this since it was required in stages and the Grange addition
was the necessary first step in the process.  Gutierrez responded that he didn't attend the private meetings with McWhinney and wasn't aware of the
second step (same as the public) and thus was unable to cast a supportive vote until he saw the whole package.  According to a source formerly with
McWhinney, passage of the Grange addition before disclosing publicly the entire project and objectives is called a strategic "slow reveal" so the public
cannot react until after the council has already approved 50% of the plan.

Especially ironic is the fact Mayor Pielin argued emphatically with Councilman Gutierrez regarding annexation of property near I-25 just a few months ago
saying the city desperately needed more "E" employment zone properties to create primary jobs.  Even the Mayor's election race was heavily influenced by
this promise but no mention was made at the second or first reading of the fact the "Grange Addition" request will rezone a significant amount of property
from e-employment zone to high and medium density residential.

LovelandPolitics has been informed the McWhinney "flexibility" plan is coming before the City Council on August 19, 2008.  The Grange Addition was the
preliminary process required to annex and zone the parcels of land McWhinney intends to ask for Urban Blight designation to qualify for certain tax
subsidies intended to incentive developers of decapitated and blighted neighborhoods in inner cities.
Councilman Kent Solt (right) explains why he cannot support McWhinney vote to colleagues  Above from
left to right: Councilmen Glenn Rousey, Cecil Gutierrez, Darryl Klassen and Kent Solt
Loveland Mayor
Gene Pielin
(right) failed to
call for public
comment - one
resident who
came to comment
was not given the
opportunity to
City Manager Don Williams and Councilman Larry Heckel