Lawsuit ruling: City of Holyoke did not violate Open Meetings Law

From The Holyoke Enterprise:  Last Tuesday, June 21, District Court Judge Douglas R. Vannoy ruled in favor of the City of Holyoke on all counts in a complicated lawsuit filed last July by Rupert and Claire O’Neal.

As a result of the summary judgment, the trial that had been set to start Oct. 3 has been vacated.

At the core of the dispute is the property on which the city drainage pit is located at the intersection of Johnson Street and U.S. Highway 385. It represents approximately a three-acre storm water drainage pond.

In the summary judgment, Vannoy ruled that the City was not in violation of the Colorado Open Meetings Law in three separate violations cited in the O’Neal lawsuit.

Additionally, Vannoy agreed with the City’s counterclaim to quiet the title and affirm its right to an easement permitting it to maintain and use the pit.

He gave the City 14 days, until July 6, to get a legal description of the land involved in order to quiet the title and give the City the right to use the pit forever.

The O’Neals will have seven days after the City has filed its proposed quiet title decree to file objections and suggested modifications to the proposal.

The final piece of summary judgment pertained to the O’Neals’ counterclaim for inverse condemnation. To establish such a claim, a property owner must show there has been a taking or damaging of a property interest for a public purpose without just compensation by a governmental or public entity.

Vannoy ruled that the O’Neals can’t satisfy the first element of an inverse condemnation claim because the City has an easement to use the pit. Additionally, the O’Neals don’t possess a property interest that was damaged or of which they were deprived by the City’s conduct.

Malcolm Murray, attorney for the City, said it was unfortunate that the City had to go through all this to get to the results, but he was pleased with the summary judgment by Vannoy.

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