Letter: Landowners should fight
To the editor:
In reading the Feb. 20 addition of The View, I read the article captioned “City armed with new land-use authority.”
It was no great surprise that the Pueblo West officials want to acquire the property through eminent domain. For those who may not be familiar with the action, it is a sneaky way (although legal) for a government entity to steal the use of the land rather than making discussion with the landowner. Upon the cease of the use of the property, the law requires that if the landowner and government entity cannot get together on a value, a certified/bonafide appraisal must be made to settle any dispute.
As you may remember, Colorado Springs, Southern Delivery System, took several landowners by eminent domain. They did not, however, pay the appraisal fee required by the 1041 but rather “made up” a figure using figures from someone’s head, and never came to look at the property. We are still left with the Pueblo County looking at our request to enforce the 1041 agreement. As it now sits, SDS has paid ten cents (10%) of the appraisal frees.
As for Dan Kogossek’s assistance in enforcing the 1041, he stood with SDS and the former commissioners. Dan said that, although the 1041 stated that all expenses to the landowner must be paid by SDS, he did not consider attorney fees as an expense. The cheapest fee we could find was $250.00 per hour and that would be charged for use of his secretary, any research/researchers and costs. This, of course, would accumulate many thousands of dollars which was unreasonable for the landowner and would extend far beyond the appraisal.
Meanwhile, we are able to document a team of four (4) attorneys that SDS paid to fight the battle. We were simply “out-gunned.” In asking the lead attorney why they were so eager to spend so many legal dollars he said it was simple. If they wound up having to pay the appraisal, all past settlement may become void and the would have to back-pay those and it would involve them paying several thousand more dollars.
The (then) Pueblo County Commissioners and the Pueblo West board made contract with SDS but did not even notify the landowners before signing. Secondly, they did nothing to protect the landowners. The present County Board of Commissioners appear to be more mindful of the needs of the landowner and are willing to look into the matter.
With all this, it is no surprise that Pueblo West is willing to jump into “eminent domain.” You note, once again, there appears to have been no attempt to talk with this landowners. It is my hope that they will stand up and fight. First, to fight the line from crossing their property. Secondly, if eminent domain is enforced by a Pueblo County judge,
Push for a legal binding contract to pay the appraisal price. Per a 1041 agreement they must pay for that appraisal and all your filing fees. Good Luck and God Bless.