City Council avoids authorizing eminent domain after reaching last-second agreement |

City Council avoids authorizing eminent domain after reaching last-second agreement

Spencer Powell
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
The purple box in this graphic depicts the access easement being sought by the Overlook Park Metropolitan District.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy photo

Thanks to a last-second letter to Steamboat Springs city officials, an agreement was finalized Friday, April 28, that signed over rights to dedicate an easement for a public road to the city.

Just a few days earlier, tensions were high as Steamboat Springs City Council was ready to authorize the power of eminent domain, a legal process governments exercise to seize private property with compensation. In Colorado, eminent domain can only be exercised if the absorbed property is dedicated to public use.

According to City Attorney Dan Foote, exercising eminent domain is rare. But on Tuesday, April 25, the city came close to granting that power to ensure an easement off U.S. Highway 40 near Brown Ranch would be dedicated to the city as promised in a 2004 agreement.

Instead, Foote persuaded City Council to defer voting on the authorization until next week, despite the Overlook Park Metro District — an independent unit of local government — strongly requesting permission to exercise its statutory right to secure the easement if an agreement wasn’t reached by Friday, April 28.

But shortly before the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Foote received a letter from Bob Zibell — the owner of Steamboat Airpark LLC and former owner of Overlook Park LLC — that was received so last-minute that the city attorney requested a brief recess to comb over the details before starting a discussion.

“I do have a signed document that I think will solve the problem,” Foote told City Council after reconvening from recess. “It needs some minor amendments, and we should be able to get those done in a day or two and get the revised document executed by the end of the week.”

On Friday, the agreement was finalized as Foote expected. The document transferred the authority to dedicate the easement over to the city.

The entanglement between the various entities involved in the original 2004 easement agreement was complicated.

Subdividing and developing Overlook Park, a 70-acre property west of Steamboat, requires a secondary access road for the property to comply with the fire code, and that access road would have to cut through the Brown Ranch property and a 0.15-acre rectangular section of a property called the Satre Parcel, which is the land at the focus of the dispute.

The 2004 agreement was between Marc Satre, the original owner of the Satre Parcel, and Overlook Park LLC, which knew an access road would be needed to develop Overlook Park. So, the owner of Overlook Park made an agreement with Satre, who promised to dedicate that 0.15-acre rectangle of land for a public road upon request by Overlook Park LLC.

In 2019, amendments were added to the agreement that required the owners of the Brown Ranch property to be ready and willing to construct the road connection in order to trigger the easement dedication, meaning both the Overlook Park and Brown Ranch developments would need to coordinate their developments.

Because the Brown Ranch development is still years away and the housing authority isn’t far enough along to mark exactly where the road would go, the current owners of Overlook Park, The Steamboat Pinnacle Group, wouldn’t receive approval of the final plat without a receipt of the easement’s dedication — likely delaying the development of Overlook Park and potentially Brown Ranch, which is why City Council was advised to act quickly.

But after that last-second letter and the agreement signed on Friday, the city and the metro district can rest easy. If the dispute wasn’t resolved by early next week, the council members were vocal about what they were ready to do.

“If it’s not resolved, I am going to be pushing very hard for the eminent domain,” Council Member Michael Buccino said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “Period.”

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