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Lawsuit against Colorado Springs and the State alleges new House bill favors property developers

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - A lawsuit filed this week against the City of Colorado Springs and the State Attorney General's office, alleges that House Bill 24-1107 "chills" the rights of the people to petition the government, in the form of appealing against property development.

The law passed in late May, requires citizens who wish to appeal certain land-use decisions to also pay the city or state's legal fees if they lose the petition against a developer in addition to their own. It does not require developers that want to petition land-use decisions, to have to pay the same fees.

Lawsuit documents allege that the law unfairly favors developers and is a violation of constitutional rights, as it places a heavier financial burden on concerned residents who want to petition major developments happening close by.

"We believe that we should be able to appeal bad decisions that our leaders make," Dana Duggan, co-founder of Westside Watch and Integrity Matters said. "It really speaks to our fundamental rights as Americans to have that kind of power to object when the government makes mistakes."

Westside Watch and Integrity Matters are two of the several plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also alleges that the primary proponent of the bill is David William Foster, a registered lobbyist for his own law firm and the Colorado Contractor's Association, and is paid over 16 thousand dollars each month to do lobbyist work for the association.

One Plaintiff in the lawsuit, Miranda Spindel, says that because HB24-1107 passed, she will not be able to petition a major development happening in her Fort Collins neighborhood if the process does not go according to plan.

The lawsuit alleges that the law's supporters say it will help prevent "frivolous" land use appeals statewide.

However, Spindel and Duggan sharply disagree on that point.

"We already have legislation today. Judges have the authority and power and do address frivolous lawsuits," Duggan said.

"There have been 11 [appeals] in the past two years across the state. And of those, I think four were a success. All four were not. And maybe one or two were dismissed," Spindel said.

For Spindel, it's not just about protecting her neighborhood as much as it is about protecting her rights.

"It's not just about my neighborhood in this development. This is happening all across Colorado. So citizens should have the right to say, hey, I think this is incorrect. I think something was improper or interpreted incorrectly," Spindel said.

The City of Colorado Springs City told KRDO13 that they do not comment on pending litigation.

KRDO13 also reached out to the Attorney General Sunday for comment, but he did not reply by the writing of this article.

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Emily Coffey

Emily is a Reporter for KRDO. Learn more about her here.


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