The Lyons Board of Trustees approved a settlement agreement between the Town of Lyons and Lyons Properties LLC, the owners of the River Bend property (home of the River Bend event venue and WeeCasa tiny home hotel). This settlement ends a lawsuit that the Town filed in May 2019 concerning Lyons Properties’ failure to provide a Colorado-Big Thompson water share as required by the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) relating to River Bend being rezoned to a Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation in 2016.
At their January 21 meeting, the trustees approved with a 5-0 vote Resolution 2020-16, “A Resolution of the Town of Lyons, Colorado Approving a Mutual Release and Settlement Agreement Between the Town of Lyons, Colorado and Lyons Properties, LLC.” The $70,000 that Lyons Properties has now agreed to pay will allow the town to buy one Colorado-Big Thompson water share, or possibly more Lake McIntosh water shares. When the MOA for River Bend was originally signed in January 2016, Colorado-Big Thompson water shares cost about $25,000. They are now priced at about $60,000.
Trustee Mark Browning read a statement about the settlement, highlighting that Lyons Properties also has the benefits of using two water shares and three water taps owned by the town.
River Bend was not on Town of Lyons water service prior to the MOA being signed and the Board of Trustees approving the rezoning of River Bend to a PUD in 2016. The MOA states that if Lyons Properties sells the property, either the buyer or Lyons Properties must pay for the three water taps and two water shares that Lyons Properties has access to under the terms of the contract.
Disagreements about River Bend utility bills between the Town of Lyons and Lyons Properties were expressed in Board of Trustees meetings in 2018. Lyons Properties began a payout plan later that year for the delinquent utility payments, which at one point exceeded $55,000. The May 2019 lawsuit and this new settlement agreement are unrelated to the utility bills.
“The lawsuit against Lyons Properties was brought to enforce a contract with the Town,” Browning said in his statement. “The contract was last amended in May 2016, so waiting beyond May 2019 to enforce it could have put the town’s contract rights at risk, under a three-year limitations period.The settlement enforces the contract. Under paragraph 45 of the contract, Lyons Properties was required to dedicate one water share to the Town. Under the settlement, the town will receive a payment that will allow it to obtain a water share.”
“The rest of the contract remains as it was at the time of the lawsuit,” Browning continued. “The Town still has the benefits it got under the contract, including easements across Lyons Properties’ land, the right to have a water intake structure located partially on Lyons Properties’ land, and ownership of property forming part of LaVern M. Johnson Park. Lyons Properties still has the benefits it got under the contract, including access to Town utilities and the use of three water taps and two water shares owned by the Town.”
Browning also said, “Like any party to an agreement with the Town, Lyons Properties can request at any time to modify the agreement. Should such a request be made, the Town also may request modifications to benefit the Town. Circumstances and economic considerations–such as the value of Colorado-Big Thompson water shares–change over time, so modifying an agreement is always a possibility. If that is requested, the Town will negotiate in good faith with the requesting party. There are no existing commitments to modify the Lyons Properties contract, and the settlement of this lawsuit does not include any such commitment. If a modification is requested, the guiding principles should be, number one, what is in the Town’s best interest, and number two, full disclosure to the public of any proposed terms.”
“For now, this settlement is in the Town’s best interest because it enforces a contract the Town entered into and ends a costly court proceeding,” Browning said. “The terms are being fully disclosed to the public. I support the settlement.”