Grand Park developer wants increases to tax limit and schedule

Grand Park developer is asking Fraser’s board to change Grand Park’s landowner tax structure.
Patrick Brower/For Sky-Hi News

The developer of Grand Park in Fraser is asking the Fraser board to change Grand Park’s landowner tax structure to extend the time frame in which landowners are expected to pay taxes, increase their debt and increase the number of metropolitan districts in development.

Cornerstone Holdings is the developer of Grand Park, which is located in Fraser, between the border with Winter Park and the Foundry Cinema and Bowl and the Murdoch Mall.

While the tax changes only affect owners of Grand Park, some Fraser residents see the developer’s request as an opportunity for Fraser Council to address ongoing concerns about Grand Park regarding the allocation of open space, the employee housing and the naming of Cozens Meadow.

Cornerstone, through its representation on the Metropolitan Tax District Boards, is asking for a 40-year landowner tax increase. It would give $199 million to the three metro tax districts set up to collect property taxes to pay for infrastructure. The change requested by Cornerstone would alter the original service plans agreed to by the Town of Fraser at the start of Grand Park’s development. Service plans are the legal documents by which the city gives Grand Park the authority to be a government entity that can levy and collect property taxes. The terms of this authority are specified in the service plans.

The three metropolitan districts are, in essence, the infrastructure developers of Grand Park, as permitted by the Metropolitan Districts Act of the State of Colorado.

Metropolitan tax districts are run by a council, consisting in this case of Clark and Meredith Lipscomb. Clark Lipscomb is the president of the real estate division of Cornerstone Holdings, the investment entity developing the Grand Park Subdivision, which manages Cornerstone Holdings properties in Grand County. Meredith Lipscomb is his wife.

Due to the peculiarities of the metropolitan district’s tax structure permitted by state law, developers of a property can control taxation and development decisions without a direct vote from new landowners in all districts. Metropolitan neighborhoods cover the Grand Park property.

The Grand Park Metropolitan Districts argue that changes to the tax structure are needed to stagger development in new districts and to cover rising costs. They also say it takes longer to complete upgrades.

Those demands are set out in a covering letter from the law firm Spencer Fane LLC, which represents the districts. The letter also cites depressed economic conditions from 2007 to 2009 as another circumstance that forces the need for change.

A key aspect of the changes is that they propose to restart a 40-year repayment period in 2023, which means owners would pay property tax of 50 million until 2063, beyond the current termination date of 2050. taxation would pay for necessary infrastructure improvements.

The requested changes caught the attention of former Fraser Mayor Peggy Smith and other Fraser citizens concerned about open space, affordable housing and an apparent name change to Cozens Meadow that appears in the documents.

Smith said she was concerned about changing the name of Cozens Meadow to Grand Park Meadow and the location of recreational improvements, including a pavilion in the open space conservation easement that was challenged by Grand Park. These new changes are shown on the concept maps included with the proposal submitted to the city and do not appear on previous maps of the area.

“It is imperative that the development of Grand Park, through these changes to the Metro District Service Agreement, be held accountable for the 466 acres of open space and affordable housing needs that were part of the agreement. of the original 2003 annexation that brought Grand Park to the city. of Fraser,” Smith said.

Demand for affordable housing must factor into any changes, she said, along with considerations for school funding and other public impacts of such development, including police protection, water, sanitation and fire protection.

spencer fane submitted a formal request to the Town of Fraser in a letter dated July 6. The letter is from attorneys representing the Metropolitan District of West Mountain, the Metropolitan District of West Meadow and the Metropolitan District of Byers View.

The City of Fraser is currently reviewing the service plan amendment and will set a date to present it to the Board of Directors once the review is complete, City of Fraser Manager Ed Cannon said in an email.

The Town of Fraser has the authority to approve revised service plans for tax districts. These service plans cover issues such as district boundaries, how much debt districts can incur to pay for infrastructure improvements in districts, and how long property taxes can be assessed to pay for improvements, among other problems.

The first proposed amendment to the service plans calls for the removal of the reference to the West Mountain metropolitan district and the creation of four additional metropolitan districts for “progressive development in the West Mountain area, which is largely within the undeveloped area west of the railway tracks..

The metropolitan districts are also proposing to clarify that the total debt issuance limit for Byers View and West Meadow, the other two districts, is $99 million. However, the districts are proposing to add an additional debt limit of $200 million for new and modified West Mountain districts, bringing the total debt limit for all improvements in the three districts to nearly $300 million.

The tri-district attorney’s letter says this is necessary due to an increase in the costs of public improvements and construction that the districts are funding.

The third part of the promoters’ request to the city specifies that the districts are subject to a maximum duration of 40 years for the issuance of bonds and that they have a ceiling on the collection of debt service of 50 thousandths, the tax rate that is applied to the assessed value of a property.

Districts say they have experienced delays in development due to unfavorable economic conditions for development necessitating the need to extend time and debt limit.

“Districts are now in a position to resume development after the economy has shown sustained improvement over the past several years,” the request letter states. Districts are asking for “the flexibility to issue debt based on development that occurs within their boundaries.”

The letter also requests permission to “fund and construct limited park and recreation improvements” as these assets are limited within the boundaries of the district. Although the application would authorize such construction, once completed, the letter states that the districts will not “own, operate or maintain such improvements.”

The letter of request specifies that the new service plan for the new district is “substantially similar” to the other district’s service plan, giving districts authority to provide public improvements, including sanitary sewer, water, water control traffic and safety, street and park improvements, and recreation and facilities,” with the same caveats about not owning, operating, or maintaining the improvements.

For the New Districts and the West Mountain District, they include 1,109 acres of residential and commercial properties with an estimated cost of public building improvements equal to $1.29 million with a total debt issuance limit of 200 millions of dollars. The same “financial restrictions” apply to the West Mountain District: 40-year bond term, $50 million debt service cap, and 8% interest rate cap on repayment agreements.

“We have prepared an amendment to the intergovernmental agreement between the district and the city to respond to changes to the service plan and the formation of West Mountain Metropolitan District Nos. 2 through 5,” the letter reads.

Developers ask city to review First Amendment to plan and the West Mountain District Service Plan.

Concerned citizens hope the proposed changes to the service plan will receive sufficient public scrutiny through Fraser’s Board of Directors so that issues related to Grand Park and the Fraser community can be resolved. .

Comments are closed.