It is no fun to lose a lawsuit. And it is even less fun to have it as the top headline in your local paper. Oh well — shows that we were really doing something that was a big deal in this area. The judge basically decided that the rules were not followed to the letter of the law, but it did not really matter because it was so close and minor and the public didn’t react. Guess we will watch for the bulldozers coming in now.
Here is the article from the paper:
Judge sides with LifeBridge
By Kevin Darst
The Daily Times-Call
LifeBridge Christian Church and Weld County did enough to notify the public during the church’s land-use process last year, a judge has ruled.
In a lawsuit filed last July in Weld County District Court, opponents of the church’s proposed 313-acre campus southeast of Union Reservoir claimed the church and county “ignored” public notice requirements for a series of hearings held between March and July 2003.
The county held the hearings to decide whether to grant the church’s request for a zoning change that would allow them to build the mixed-use campus of homes, offices, recreational amenities and the church.
But Judge Roger Klein sided with the church and county in a Friday ruling, in part because none of the 110 people who attended an April 2003 planning commission hearing for LifeBridge’s request to rezone the 313-acre plot from agricultural to planned unit development objected to the “late or inadequate notice.”
“No member of the public who did not receive notice and who did not attend the hearing has intervened in this action,” Klein wrote.
Plaintiffs could appeal Klein’s decision, though it wasn’t known Monday if they would.
The plaintiffs, led by Duane Leise, who, as a resident of the Elms at Meadow Vale subdivision is a potential church neighbor, pointed to the county’s failure to publish notice of a March 18, 2003, hearing at the county’s planning commission meeting. A blizzard forced a continuation of the meeting, and LifeBridge’s rezoning request was moved to April 22, 2003.
The county published notice for that hearing 12 days ahead of the meeting, instead of the 14 days required by county code.
Leise could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. Pete Gries, another Elms resident who was a vocal opponent of the church’s plans, deferred comment to Leise.
Peter Ziemke, the attorney who represented Leise, said in June that Weld County commissioners’ approval of the zoning change was “void and must be reversed.” In addition to violating public hearing codes, Ziemke said evidence in the case did not support the commissioners’ decision to grant the church’s request.
Ziemke did not return a phone call Monday.
Assistant County Attorney Lee Morrison applauded Klein’s ruling.
“I think he recognized there was adequate notice and ample opportunity for the public to participate,” Morrison said.
A spokesman for the church said the decision would allow LifeBridge to move ahead with its plans. It has to submit a site plan to the county for approval before it can begin construction on the first phase of development.
Kevin Darst can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 405, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.