Homeowners control own density destiny at Burlingame
September 9, 2008
ASPEN ” A state statute protects homeowners at Burlingame Ranch by allowing them to control their own destiny when it comes to how many units should be built there.
Jim True, special counsel for the city of Aspen, told the City Council on Monday that it will require 67 percent of Burlingame unit owners to agree to change the homeowner association’s covenants, which call for an unanimous vote to increase density at the affordable housing development.
That’s not what was previously thought by city officials, who believed that it would only require a two-thirds majority vote by Burlingame homeowners to change the density. It was thought that because the city owns 60 percent of the units at Burlingame, it left only about 13 or 14 actual homeowners allowed to vote on the density issue.
But as it turns out, 61 homeowners must agree to change the unanimous vote declaration and as a result, the density increase proposal at Burlingame.
City Councilman Dwayne Romero apologized Monday to Burlingame homeowners who may have felt lead astray.
“Several of us were representing an inaccurate declaration, and we made a mistake,” he said. “If we caused any undue hardship or strain, I apologize for that. But we’re now back on track and on task.”
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Grand Junction attorney Richard Livingston, who was hired by Shaw Construction as part of its contract to build the first phase of Burlingame, wrote the declaration to include the unanimous vote clause.
True determined two weeks ago that Livingston didn’t realize there is a state statute known as the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act that allows the HOA’s covenants to be amended.
The state statute also requires that while 67 percent of the unit owners approve the increase which includes the city’s ownership interest, it also stipulates that it must include 67 percent of the owners of units not owned by the city. That will mean one vote, but the ballots must be counted twice ” once for the city and once for the homeowners.
There are 84 units currently built at Burlingame, with seven single-family lots sold for a total of 91 homeowners. The city of Aspen owns the other 145 units that have yet to be built and as a result, not yet sold.
City Councilman Steve Skadron said he views the city and Burlingame residents as partners in the development and wants to make sure their rights are protected.
“We have yet to hear from Burlingame homeowners, and it should be a top priority for us,” he said.
True said he and other city officials are meeting with Burlingame HOA representatives this week to explain the nuances of the legislation and clear up any misunderstandings on their voting rights.
True added that the state statute is designed to protect homeowners in the event that developers decide to change the use, number of units or boundaries in an already approved plan.
“They have certain rights given to them,” he said. “It acknowledges their right to control the density.”
Voters will be asked this fall to increase the units at Burlingame from the voter-approved 236 to as much as 300. A panel of residents called the construction experts group that has been working for months on a new development plan has recommended 293 units.
Councilman Jack Johnson asked if the ballot question could be pulled, fearing the public will be too confused to make an educated vote.
City Clerk Kathryn Koch said the question can’t be pulled since the ballot is currently being printed; the deadline for finalizing the November ballot was Friday.