Colorado Springs City Council declines vote on ending Banning Lewis Ranch secrecy

The Complete Colorado: At a Feb. 26 work session Colorado Springs City Council President Richard Skorman took the “temperature” of the council about council member Bill Murray’s request for a formal vote to end the practice of using executive sessions to keep negotiations about the Banning Lewis Ranch annexation revision secret. After some at-times acrimonious discussion among council members Skorman took an informal vote. The council declined 6-3 to add Murray’s request to the agenda for the regular meeting the next day.

Murray has long been a critic of what he sees as a lack of transparency in the process of amending the 1988 annexation agreement. The city is proposing to restate the original agreement at the request of landowners and developers who complain that the “hard zoning” and other stipulations in the original agreement are onerous and the costs imposed for infrastructure improvements are excessive. This, they say, is why the property has not been developed.

Beginning in December the city held several public meetings where city staff outlined the benefits of developing the ranch. The city released a draft amended annexation agreement on Dec. 8, 2017.

Since then the city and developers have been meeting in secret and the council has been keeping everything under wraps by meeting in executive session as well as making claims of attorney-client privilege related to a bankruptcy lawsuit brought by the landowners.

At the beginning of the Feb. 26 work session Murray said, “My purpose is to get the council to allow the settlement negotiations to end because we’ve already won the case as far as that goes. This will allow us to take the negotiations out of the attorney client privilege arena which means we can discuss them with third parties, all the issues, all the events, all the documentation.”

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