Centennial owners to appeal judge’s ruling on structure, mold issues | AspenTimes.com

Centennial owners to appeal judge’s ruling on structure, mold issues

Staff report

The homeowners’ association for the Centennial affordable-housing complex plans to appeal a District Court judge’s ruling last month dismissing most of its claims against local government, according to court records.

In October, District Judge Anne Norrdin dismissed four and a half of the claims filed by the Centennial Owners’ Association against the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, Pitkin County and the city of Aspen, ruling that they were protected by the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act.

The owners of the 95 deed-restricted units at the complex sued in December 2015, accusing the governmental entities of holding them responsible for more than $10 million in structural repairs needed at the seven-building complex. The repairs are necessary to alleviate “dangerous levels of potentially toxic mold” and other deficiencies, according to the lawsuit.

Norrdin, however, ruled that the claims by Centennial owners, if upheld, would mean that “every housing authority provides everyone who purchases an affordable-housing unit with a free, unwritten insurance policy covering the cost of any repair to the property, regardless of cause.”

That ruling will now be appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, according to court records.

But Norrdin ruled that the governments are not immune to one portion of the claims. That piece relates to a possible public policy-based repeal of the deed restrictions to fix the problems, according to court records.

APCHA and the local governments have asked Norrdin to reconsider allowing that claim to stand. A decision is pending, according to the notice of appeal.

That public policy-based claim allows Centennial owners to advocate for changes to the employee-housing structure that puts owners at a disadvantage, David Bovino, a Centennial attorney, has said.

Prior to filing the lawsuit, city and county inspections of the property determined cost estimates of between $3.5 million and $10 million to fix damages, the lawsuit states. The city concluded that each owner would have to pay more than $40,000 toward the fixes, which led to the lawsuit.