Mountain Legends PUD
Just last fall, and only a few months after recording their original development agreement, developers of Mountain Legends requested a 5-year extension to complete the infrastructure in their PUD. This extension request was finally given conditional preliminary approval by the county staff just days before the new county commissioners began their terms. The old administration did not have a policy for development agreement extensions, whereas the new administration has worked hard to develop a policy with criteria for evaluating development agreement extension requests. The new administration’s policy is that all extension requests must go through the proper procedures, and if the BOCC determines that the request meets their criteria for an extension, they may grant a one-time extension of up to 12 months.
None of the old or new administration members were aware of the extension request until an amended development agreement was just formally recorded in late August, 8 months after it was given conditional, preliminary approval by the staff.
Developer Harry Statter argued that he had worked hard to get a 5-year letter of credit for the project which could not be amended now, and that his project would suffer irreparable injury if he did not get his 5-year extension.
VARD rebutted these claims, pointing out that he was not injured because in his haste to apply for an extension request only a few months into his contract, Mr. Statter still had 2 years remaining on his original development agreement. Furthermore, the letter of credit would have to be amended anyways because it was based on old, out-dated engineering estimates that would not accurately reflect the cost of the project 5 years into the future. As increasing numbers of developments request extensions to fulfill their infrastructure obligations, the county has struggled to make sure that developers post a sufficient bond to complete all of their obligations. That is precisely the problem with a 5-year extension – it will be particularly difficult to ensure that all of the developer’s obligations and infrastructure costs are covered over such a large period of time.
County Attorney Kathy Spitzer stated that the planning administrator lacked the authority to sign for the county back in January, so the agreement was not valid. However, the BOCC could choose to accept the agreement and ratify it, thus making it valid.
Bob Benedict expressed concern that the new agreement appeared to only discuss Phase 1, and the way it was written could allow for the developer to build out Phase 1 and never, ever have to complete any of the required road improvements that were of chief concern when this PUD was originally approved.
Kathy Rinaldi also expressed concerns with the gaping loopholes in the agreement that could result in negative consequence for the neighbors and county. She also feared that there were more loopholes yet to be discovered. She stated that the changes “heaped a lot of uncertainty on the neighbors” and the developer should have to go through the hard-fought development agreement extension request procedure like everyone else.
Larry Young sided with the developer, stating he was inclined to ratify the agreement because the developer had obtained a new letter of credit in reliance on the planning administrator’s signature.
After much debate, the BOCC directed Mr. Statter to present an amended development agreement to Attorney Spitzer so she could approve any changes to the agreement before the commissioners consider signing it.