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Centerra South: Who is Representing You?

EDITORIAL

By George Garklavs, Associate Editor

The Loveland Voice

April 28, 2023


With a recent flurry of activity in Loveland and the State regarding the proposed Centerra South

development, we believe it is worth examining some of the purported information that is being

bandied about and who is saying what.


The Debate

A large contingent of Loveland’s current City Council has stepped forward in support of the South

Centerra development as proposed by the McWhinney enterprise. There has also been opposition

to this development and questions raised about some aspects of how the development would be

funded.


Proponents seem to focus on the notion that Loveland needs this project to go forward, as

proposed by the developer. They tout the potential for over one thousand attainable workforce

housing units! Depending on who is talking, this can be as high as 1,400, plus retail and office

space for high salaried workers, and greenspace for walking and relaxing. Sounds nice, right?

However, when asked about the types of jobs and salary range in the developers currently

co-located development, both the city Economic Development Director Kelly Jones and the

McWhinney Vice President of Community Design and Neighborhood Development Kim Perry

said that information is not available. (Links to emails in footnotes, see 1, and 2)


Developers tend to portray their projects in a favorable light, we would not expect them to

highlight limitations or the reality that their projections may not come to fruition. We would,

however, expect our elected representatives to do their due diligence on behalf of residents in

considering the proposed plan.


This leads us to the current conflict: The developer’s insistence that the project cannot go forward

without a diversion of tax revenues from the county, the city, and the school district through an

Urban Renewal Authority (URA) plan. This conflict has now reached the Colorado Legislature,

where the battle has continued this week, over SB23-273, proposed by Senator Janice Marchman

(D) of Loveland.


Recent History of URAs in Loveland

The original intent of Urban Renewal Authority legislation was to provide a way for cities to share

tax dollars to rehabilitate slums, crime-ridden areas, areas of urban decay, and environmentally

degraded sites, all of which can be deemed risky investments for developers to undertake. Prime

farmland was never intended to be considered for this type of blighted designation. However, in the

early 2000s, the City of Loveland approved designating about 400 acres of farmland blighted in

order to include it in the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority (LURA) area.


This singular act caused enough concern within the State of Colorado that legislation was passed to

greatly limit this practice. Included within that legislation (HB10-1107) was a “legacy clause”* so

as not to punish areas that had farmland designated as blighted before the enactment of that

legislation. The clause allowed those areas to remain in their respective URA plans till the plans

completion date. All new URAs that wanted to include farmland had to meet four criteria outlined

in that legislation. There was no provision for transferring previously blighted farmland into new

URA plans.


Legislative Intent and Impact Today

Recent testimony of the original legislative authors and sponsors before the current State

legislature bears out the original legislative intent. Other changes in legislation mandated that all

taxing entities that would be affected by the tax diversions of a URA Tax Increment Financing

(TIF) arrangement need to be allowed to negotiate their participation in the project.

The bill currently winding its way through Colorado Legislature is designed to clarify the original

legislative intent of House Bill 10-1107, that farmland designated as blighted before 2010 cannot

automatically be moved into a new URA area without meeting one of the specified criteria of

HB10-1107.


During debates at the second reading on the Colorado House floor Representative Ron Weinberg

stated that yes, the developer is using a “loophole” that would enable him to extend the tax

diversions for this property for an additional 25 years, and he should be allowed to do so because of

the time and money already spent on this project. Rep. Weinberg also said that after this

development is allowed to proceed the loophole should then, and only then, be closed by

legislation. The bill’s co-sponsor, Majority Whip Rep. Boesenecker argued that once legislation is

found to need clarification it should be done quickly, with no preference given to someone who

might already “have their hands in the cookie jar”.


Proponents of the development, many of whom, as Councilor Mallo pointed out at the April 25th

meeting of the Loveland Urban Renewal Authority (LURA) seem to have, “some skin in the

game,” tend to ignore, downplay, or argue the imagined negative consequences of what the law says

about calling farmland blighted. These arguments focus on how wonderful the proposed

development will be, without thoughtfully examining the successes and failures of similar projects

by the developers both locally and statewide.


Instead, they’ve resorted to personal attacks against those who either ask for more information or

oppose the development. Is this the caliber of local government that citizens of Loveland want or

expect? Do we want elected officials that uphold their oath to obey the country’s and state’s

constitutions? Or will we get by with decision making that follows the notion that the end (real or

imaginary) justifies the means?


Talk to us: Do you feel represented by your elected officials in the Centerra South debate? Email

jessica@thelovelandvoice.com to share your thoughts.

_________

*Often referred to as a “grandfather clause,” although that term is no longer in use.

1- McWhinney Rep. Kim Perry email on Housing in Centerra South

2- Kim Perry on Job Creation in Centerra South



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