LovelandPolitics.com
a non-partisan, not for profit website about Loveland politics for residents concerned about our
community's quality of life.  Send us your story or comment on the blog.



Archive - view the archived blogs
After a long and contentious meeting, a majority of Loveland's City Council voted to declare McWhinney farmland
blight while also approving McWhinney's
the proposal.

Councilman David Clark lectured the residents in attendance near the end of the meeting, claiming McWhinney
isn't making a profit but is just trying to be nice to the city.

In a role comparable to the keystone cops, Loveland's city attorney looked to McWhinney attorneys to answer
key questions directed to him mostly by Councilman Kent Solt.   

City Manager's Comments

Loveland's City Manager Don Williams introduced the item by telling the Loveland City Council what issues he
believed were likely to be raised in the hearing over McWhinney's "Flex" URA request.  In an odd sort of way, he
distanced himself from the staff recommendation to approve the item by saying his signature on the
recommendation only approves it going before council but that he could not respond to specific legal questions
council had raised.  He went on to lecture the council about what he believed the boundaries of the discussion for
the evening should be regarding the designation of blight and urban renewal law.  Williams told the council "we
are not the legislature and don't discuss the theoretical issues regarding the legislators' intent."  

Williams said the word blight is a legal "term of art" and not the "commonly used meaning of the word."   Later in
the meeting, right before voting on the matter, Mayor Pielin commented it was a shame the legislature failed to
provide proper language in the bill describing blight.

The word blight is defined in Colorado's Urban Renewal Law as;  

Colo. Statute 31-25-103. Definitions  "Blighted area" means an area that, in is present condition and use, and
by reason of the presence of at least four factors, substantially impairs or arrests the sound growth of the
municipality, retards the provision of housing accommodations, or constitutes an economic or social
liability, and is a menace to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare:

McWhinney Presentation
Jay Hardy, Vice President of McWhinney Enterprises, presented a power point presentation to council that
included references to "public purposes" as the use for URA (Urban Renewal Authority) money. Hardy explained
during his presentation that "Urban renewal authority is about public money for public purposes."  

Pictures of roadways, interchanges and other general public improvements were highlighted in the presentation
as the constant reference to "public" improvements was pitched to the council and public.

Below are some examples of "public purposes" proposed previously by McWhinney to use taxes collected by the
Metro District:

1.  A trolley system to shuttle shoppers around their proposed "Grand Station" (Council stopped in 2006)
2.  Private parking garage for Grand Station (Council approved)
3.  Demolition of the old dog track to and site preparation (roads, sewers etc..) for new buildings (Council denied
demolition costs)
4.  Environmental impact reports that are required when constructing a new building.

Good Governance Clause Already Removed From MFA
A part of city staff's presentation, a slide indicated the Flex URA is the only significant change made to the MFA
(Master Financing Agreement) that governs the relationship between the city and McWhinney since it was first
signed in 2004.  However, a recent modification not mentioned that evening was the one passed along with the
parking garage for Grand Station in 2006.  This modification removed a critical "good governance" clause that
protected the public .  As initially proposed, the McWhinneys were not permitted to use the same contractor for
both the public and private improvements on a particular project.  This restriction was removed thus allowing for
the same contractor to do both jobs thus creating the risk of co-mingling of funds resulting in public monies being
used towards private purposes.  By requiring separate contractors, an audit trail is easy to establish but not
when one contractor is doing both jobs simultaneously since equipment, labor and materials can easily be
"confused" between different parts of job site.

I-25 / Highway 34 Interchange Permanent Improvement Plan Abandoned

In what appeared to be the most absurd argument presented was that of the I-25 / Highway 34 interchange.  
Chad McWhinney told council that in the 1980's the Ft. Collins City Council was told the inter-change would one
day rival the Foothills Mall and everyone laughed.  He argued the strategic local of the intersection means it will
continue to develop at a fast pace and that even more traffic and development is inevitable.  He even invoked his
favorite tag line that "success comes to those who get in front of the inevitable."

On the other hand, he was arguing that placing development inside the redevelopment agency means critically
needed funding can be raised for the intersection.

This was an absurd argument since developments inside the redevelopment authority have their taxes (property
and sales) diverted into the Metro District controlled by McWhinney.  If property develops outside the district,  
the city gets all the city sales tax and a much greater amount of property taxes.  This means the council has more
money (not less) at their discretion to spend on the interchange or any other public improvement project.  

A key element of the pitch to council included the planned improvements to the I-25 and Highway 34 and how
approving the "Flex" plan can help improve the intersection.  This was a major part of the presentation by Chad
McWhinney.  The City Attorney later informed council the improvements to I-25 and highway 34 interchange (the
permanent improvements) were scrapped in a meeting between the city attorney, Chad McWhinney and
representatives from CDOT (Colorado Dept. of Transportation).  Nobody from the McWhinney organization
addressed the issue of what they will do with the extra taxes already approved as part to the URA to be collected
for another 21 years.  The fact they were still promoting a public improvement they new the Metro District would
never have to fund leaves doubts about their sincerity.

Upon learning of this change, Councilman Solt stated, "That is big news to me if taxpayers are now only going to
get $9 million (instead of the $35 million promised in the MFA).  The interim improvements are estimated to cost
$12 million but were never intended to be a permanent solution.  The original MFA was touted by those on the
council in 2004 as the "long term solution" to fixing the interchange and future traffic problems.   McWhinney
lobbied to also shed any responsibility for building the interchange by lobbying the proposed RTA tax
improvements last year.   No adjustments have been made to accommodate for the loss of this improvement from
the MFA agreement.

While the city attorney described the decision to abandon the permanent I-25/Highway 34 interchange
improvements as emanating from CDOT, LovelandPolitics has been told differently.  According to sources in
Colorado's state government, CDOT was frustrated with attempts by McWhinney to dump traffic closer to
Centerra shopping centers from the off ramps instead of on improved roads where the driver has more choices.  
Ultimately, CDOT determined the "Metro District" tax money came with too many restrictions and abandoned any
plans to implement the permanent improvements.

Public Comment

For over an hour the Loveland City Council heard from residents concerned about the proposed annexation.  
Many spoke out in favor of downtown by telling the council they have "dropped the ball" when it comes to
renovating Loveland's downtown and should not subsidize more sprawl.  

Carmen Rhodes, Executive Director of FRESC, was among the first from the public to address the council.  Rhodes
announced that while she heads the statewide public policy group of FRESC, she grew-up in Loveland and cares
deeply for the community.  Rhodes described FRESC (website is FRESC.org) as a public policy organization
working to support responsible development and oppose abuses of the Urban Renewal Law.  Rhodes read a
number of legal arguments as to why the proposed "Flex" plan fails to comply with state statute and urged the
council to vote down the proposal.

Susan Levine (formerly Davis) was among the most moving speakers from the public.  She informed the council
that her furniture business in downtown Loveland was closing by the end of the week.  She stated, "my family has
contributed to this community for generations."    Levine nearly came to tears as she made a compassionate
appeal to the city council not to vote more favors for McWhinney.  Levine concluded her comments by stating,
"Let the free market allow development along the I-25 but please don't subsidize our competition with our
money."

Joan Shaffer, another downtown business person, asked the council to reconsider granting McWhinney the "Flex"
URA and consider focusing their efforts on other parts of the city.  A parade of speakers followed Shaffer asking
the Loveland City Council to vote against the flex plan and "phony" blight designation.

A smaller number of speakers did defend the proposal and the McWhinneys.  The few citizens who favored the
proposal made general comments regarding benefits emanating from the Outlet Malls or Centerra but failed to
address any specific issues relating to the Flex plan proposal before the council.  One Ft. Collins resident who
runs an insurance agency in Loveland, stated he never came to Loveland before Centerra was built because there
wasn't "much worth mentioning" in Loveland before the McWhinneys.  Another elderly cowboy who had
advocated for the McWhinneys in previous meetings challenged the audience stating, "I want to know what you
all accomplished" as he went on a bit of a tirade accusing Loveland resident opposed to the Flex plan of being
loosers.  As he concluded his comments he toward the door and left the meeting instead of returning to his seat
among the angry Loveland residents.

Following the public hearing, Mayor Pielin invited Chad McWhinney to return to the microphone and "rebut" in
his words the comments expressed to the council by Loveland residents.  Lucia Lily, a Ft. Collins attorney working
for McWhinney, used the opportunity to try and put down comments made by residents.  She did this by restating
their argument in a slightly different and flawed way in order to refute them.  The audience was restless and
complained amongst themselves.  At one point, County Commissioner Candidate Roger Hoffmann raised his hand
and asked to speak.  Mayor Pielin was wearing a broad smile when he said, "Roger, public hearing is closed" and
explained no more public comments would be allowed.  The Loveland residents began leaving the chamber
slowly as the McWhinney team continued demeaning comments from Loveland residents for another hour.

Council On Trial

While the members of the City Council were discussing the matter and asking questions, Chad McWhinney stood
near the public microphone answering questions or responding with comments whenever the councilors asked a
question to their staff or to his representatives.  Councilman Klassen, at one point, was explaining his concern
with the Flex plan and the city's hyper investment in pushing development along I-25.  McWhinney took the
opportunity to begin questioning the consistency of Klassen's votes by asking him how voted on the 402
annexation.  As the audience began making noises and gasps, the Mayor interrupted McWhinney 's
cross-examination of a councilman and told him it would be best to let the City Council ask the questions.

Council Comments and Votes

Larry Heckel said very little as midnight drew near and simply stated he liked the proposal and thought the
McWhinney staff and city staff "did a good job."  Carol Johnson was equally brief while David Clark took the
opportunity to make some arguments in response to the resident who spoke earlier in the meeting.  

Clark said the other blighted areas of town (demonstrated to the council by a resident earlier in the meeting with
large pictures of the old Metro Lux theater, Davidson Cheverolet and Ferraro Chrylser/Jeep) were not under
consideration for any special tax district financing because "the property owners didn't ask us."  He apparently
missed the point of the speaker entirely.  The resident pointed out that this was blight specifically caused by the
phony blight designations in east Loveland - the irony that the council was not only failing to fix blight with a
financial tool made for this purpose but on the contrary they were responsible for causing the blight.  All three of
the businesses mentioned above moved to Centerra and now the city only gets a fraction of the sales tax collected
for car sales or movie tickets bought at these businesses.  A number of other councilors followed Clark's lead by
making similar comments.

The Vote

Councilmen Skowron, Rousey and Klassen were disappointing to the crowd as they made comments indicating
they may not vote to abdicate their authority to McWhinney.  In the end, most of the resolutions passed on a 7-2
vote with only Councilmen Gutierrez and Solt voting no.  The use of public funds to demolish the dog track, raised
earlier by Solt and Gutierrez, was rejected by the council on an 8-1 vote with only Councilwoman Johnson voting
in the affirmative.
Legal Arguments

The City Attorney argued two cases in law
set the precedent from the courts allowing
for Loveland's designation of agricultural
land as blight

determined that if 13 blocks are actually City
Attorney:  Said that in one case a court
blighted, the city could include another 1
block that does not meet the definition in
"area of blight."

Councilman Solt:  Argued the case is not on
point (he said it was 3 of 13 blocks) because
Loveland is claiming blight on various
parcels of land when 94% of the area is not
blighted and not even contiguous parcels

City Attorney:  Argued in another case a
court upheld a determination of blight even
though 42% of the area was "open space."

Councilman Solt:  Argued that the "open
space" was not productive agricultural land
and asked if the term "open space" had been
defined to include agriculture.
Councilman Solt, an attorney, asks questions
regarding the legality of the "Flex" Plan during
the Sept. 2 meeting.  He later voted against the
proposal while Councilman Klassen (left above)
voted in favor of the proposals.
Excerpt of comments made to Loveland's
City Council by Liam Weston

"The issue before you tonight is about
integrity.  

State law has vested you, our elected
officials, with a certain amount of discretion
in interpreting and applying the Urban
Renewal law as it relates to land within the
city.

That discretion represents the check or
balance in our system of government, a
government of laws, that you took a solemn
oath to uphold and protect.  

The McWhinneys, their attorneys and other
friends here this evening didn't’t take that
oath and don’t have that obligation– but
you do.

Tonight you are being asked to make an
official finding of “Blight” of nearly 500
acres of land located in 5 distinct non-
contiguous parcels.  To make a finding of
blight you must conclude that each of these
parcels meets the following definition
prescribed by law:.... is a menace to the
public health, safety, morals, or welfare.

Can you please tell us what is menacing
about an agricultural field?"
Chad McWhinney,
above, glances back
at the crowd of
Loveland residents -
many of whom spoke
against his proposal.  

No
Gutierrez, Solt

Yes
Pielin, Clark, Heckel, Johnson, Skowron,
Klassen, Rousey


2.  Designate Farm Land "Blight" and
make finding it is a menace to the
community

No
Gutierrez, Solt
Yes
Pielin, Clark, Heckel, Johnson, Skowron,
Klassen, Rousey

3.  Allow the use of Metro District (public
funds) to demolish dog racing track

No
Gutierrez, Solt, Skowron, Klassen, Rousey,
Pielin, Clark, Heckel

Yes
Johnson
City Council Abdicates Governmental Power
To McWhinney While Declaring Farm  Land a
"menace" to community
Loveland's Most Comprehensive report on the Sept. 2, 2008 "Flex URA"
meeting and decision