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The Brothers Klen
Lawsuit highlights inequities in Loveland's development process and accuses staff
of retaliatory actions to suppress free speech by developers about officials

Loveland is known to some developers as the easiest build in the front range for the casual attitude the City
Manager and his top staff take towards building permits and local laws.  According to former City of Loveland
staff, some developers could remove an inspector's SWO (Stop Work Order) due to violations in the building
code by nothing more than a phone call to the City Manager.   That is without having corrected the known
deficiency.

According to one former city official, "
After Don Williams became the City of Loveland's City Manager, it became
commonplace and accepted for builders to begin building before they were issued building permits..."
  Another
described the city's building department as something akin to a "college fraternity" where member
developers with beer get what they want but outsiders are subject to hazing while trying to comply with
sophomoric rules enforced in a capricious and arbitrary manner by an incompetent staff.   

Loveland's former senior building inspector, James Cook, who is now a building inspector for the State of
Colorado explained it this way in an affidavit filed in District Court,

"The permissive approach to building permits was part of City of Loveland's policies.....depended on whether the
builder was part of an insider group which included members of the Construction Advisory Board and the City
Council"

Similar to a few notoriously out of control fraternities at CSU, Loveland's development services fraternity may
also be in trouble.  Not for any alcohol related deaths but instead because one developer is claiming to have
been violated.  Two brothers and their company are seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the
City of Loveland for "deliberate violations" of the Klen's civil rights.  Apparently, the Klens fell out of favor and
their project fell victim to new rules, bureaucratic delays, newly created procedures and even criminal
prosecution fueled by what appears to be perjury.

The Klens are now suing the City of Loveland in District Court along with senior members of city staff (see
blue box on the right for a list of names).  The City of Loveland and staff stand accused of violating their rights
to equal protection under the law and for using their governmental regulatory authority in a retaliatory
fashion when the Klens attempted to exercise their first amendment rights to complain.

What makes the lawsuit and their amended complaint so fascinating is that Ed Klen, one of the two brothers,
is hardly an outsider to the privileged group referenced above by the former city inspector.  In 1999 Ed Klen
was appointed to the city's Construction Advisory Board where he served until 2005.  While Klen's attorney is
reluctant to assign any singular motive to the city for allegedly persecuting his client during the past four
years, a number of facts have emerged in the case that could be the geneses of staff's animosity towards the
Klen brothers and their company Diverse Construction.

The Klen brothers built a 69,000 square foot commercial project in east Loveland near Wal-Mart named the
Anasazi Park beginning in 2000.  After they completed the project in 2003, the brothers began work on an
adjacent project (referred to as Phase II) to build an additional 49,000 square foot building.  In 2004 they
began to run into problems with the City of Loveland.

Complaint of "intoxicated in his official capacity"

Loveland City Inspector, Richard Hoskinson, is among the city staffers who appear to have a bitter dispute
with the Klens.  One reason may be the fact Hoskinson was barred from the Klen brother's construction site
during phase 1 of their Anasazi Park project, according to the Klen's complaint, after Hoskinson "arrived
intoxicated in his official capacity" onto their property.  As evidence of the problem, Exhibit 11 of their lawsuit
includes Larimer County court records of DUI charges against Hoskinson dating between 1999 and 2005.

In March of 2005 the Klens met with City Manager Don Williams in an attempt to improve relations with staff
and get support from upper management.  The Klens were angry about a negotiated settlement on another
matter involving the project the city negotiated with the Klen's attorney but later recanted.  According to the
Klen's complaint, they called the City Attorney, John Duval, a "boob" for being "nakedly obstructionist" during
the meeting with the city manager.  Williams, a very tall and intimidating figure, leaned into the Klens and
warned them, "you're big boys and you know what you are getting into."

Loveland's Chicago Style Planning Department

In April of 2005 an outside consultant reported to Loveland's City Council just how bad the problem had
become in the city's development process.  Hired to improve efficiency in the process, the consultant, Bob
Tipton, instead warned the City Council that what he was going to report was "uncomfortable."    He even
expressed concern that his car tires may be deflated if continued reporting his finding in the public meeting.

Tipton, the city hired consultant, disclosed during a public council meeting that his study for the previous four
months revealed a city development process where, "Who you know is sometimes more important (for
developers) than following the process,"  Greg George, a defendant in the Klen's civil action, was quoted in an
article in the Loveland Reporter Herald in 2005 on the matter while he was the city's director of development
services stating, "There are no real standards, we're not using the zoning code, so there's a lot of testing and a
lot of negotiating."

Tipton also informed the Loveland City Council that unnecessary delays and lack of any reliable process for
development review increased the costs of construction in Loveland for both individual residences and
commercial buildings for those without influence in the process.  Two influential developers who sit on the
Loveland City Council, David Clark and Larry Heckel, benefit from favorable treatment, according to some, in
the development process and therefore have little incentive to reform it.  In addition, barriers to entry and
increased costs for developers competing against the councilman's projects creates a certain conflict of
interest for the two councilors.  One of the two serves as the council liaison to the Construction Advisory
Board and neither has recused himself from participating in discussions relating to the Klen's lawsuit.

What They "Got Into"

The Klen's lawsuit has many claims that cover a period of years.  The seconded amended complaint can be
accessed here by anyone interested in reading the entire complaint.

According to Klen vs. The City of Loveland complaint filed in court the following is alleged;

1.  The Klens received the "verbal" approval to proceed without a building permit on their Phase II (as was a
common practice) but were later cited for building without a permit by city employee Tom Hawkinson (who
provided the approval) while creating secret violation orders to be presented later.

2.  Hawkinson issued a "Stop Work Order" during a pour of 300 yards of concrete to maximize the economic
damage the order might create for the Klens

3.  Kristine Burns, Loveland's Building Permit Coordinator, lost the Klen's permit application and called them
"dickheads" when they returned with an attorney to complain after many other visits to inquire about the
status of their long delayed permit application.

4.  Burns later told the Klens, "If you continue to piss me off, I'll double your fees."  

5.  The increased fees totaling over $300,000 were the subject of further meetings and disputes where Burns
failed to produce the city's fee schedule.  When confronted with a conflicting fee schedule prepared by
another employee, Burns is accused of throwing it in the garbage and stating, "bring in your checkbook and
no more questions."
BLOG  BLOG
"The permissive approach to building
permits was part of City of Loveland's
policies.....depended on whether the
builder was part of an insider group
which included members of the
Construction Advisory Board and the City
Council."

James Cook
City of Loveland's former Senior Inspector

Click here for affidavit
EDWARD J. KLEN,
STEPHEN J. KLEN,
Corporation), and
HOLSTEIN SELF-SERVICE STORAGE, LLC (Organized
under Colorado Law)
Plaintiffs,
v.
CITY OF LOVELAND, COLORADO (A Colorado
Municipal Corporation),
THOMAS HAWKINSON, CITY OF LOVELAND
BUILDING OFFICIAL, in his individual
and official capacities,
GREG GEORGE, CITY OF LOVELAND COMMUNITY
SERVICES DIRECTOR, in his
individual and official capacities,
DONALD WILLIAMS, CITY OF LOVELAND MANAGER,
in his official capacity,
RICHARD HOSKINSON, CITY OF LOVELAND
BUILDING INSPECTOR, in his individual
and official capacities,
JOHN R. DUVAL, CITY OF LOVELAND ATTORNEY, in
his individual and official
capacities,
KRISTINE BURNS, CITY OF LOVELAND BUILDING
PERMIT COORDINATOR, in her
individual and official capacities,
DAVID SPRAGUE, CITY OF LOVELAND PLANS
REVIEWER, in his individual and official
capacities,
JEFF McKEE, CITY OF LOVELAND PLANNING
TECHNICIAN, in his official capacity,
CINDY WORAYETH, CITY OF LOVELAND EMPLOYEE,
in her individual and official
capacities,
JOHN DOE, and/or JANE DOE, in their individual and
official capacities.
Excerpt of Civil Complaint