• Russell Stewart

Friends and Neighbors,

Before the votes are counted, I’d like to share my reflections on this year’s CHV municipal election experience.

During the campaign it’s too easy to forget that we live in the best city in Colorado. We wake every day to stunningly beautiful vistas. Our schools, parks, trails, and recreational opportunities are second-to-none. Our friends and neighbors are smart, friendly, and accomplished. There is no better place to raise a family. We all want to preserve the best of what we have for our children and our children’s children.

This campaign was not about personal character. I know all the current incumbents. They are individuals of integrity who care deeply about the Village. They are volunteers who at substantial personal sacrifice have made great contributions to our community. They always act in what they believe to be the best interest of our Village, and they deserve our heartfelt thanks. Through the campaign I have come to know the challengers. They also have high personal integrity and share a devotion to our Village. They too deserve our appreciation and thanks for stepping forward and expressing their views and positions on important Village issues. I will of course enthusiastically support whichever candidates are elected next week.

I ran for Mayor this year because I believed it was important to begin a public discussion about several important issues. I’m gratified that over these last several weeks consensus has emerged about shelving the roundabout, returning Kent Denver land, and using the South Suburban bonus solely for “Parks and Recreation Purposes.” Win or lose, I hope that the next Council will consider my suggestions for reforms. These include amending our municipal Code/Charter to:

  1. Provide a taxpayer vote before incurring multiple-year debt, whether by lease-to-purchase agreements or otherwise;

  2. Extend to landowners the protections of the Supreme Court Nolan and Dolan decisions;

  3. Incorporate the requirements of § 31-23-209, C.R.S. requiring P&Z approval before authorization or construction of any street, park, building, or other public ways or facilities; and

  4. Provide for election of six Council members by district and adding 2 at large members.

Finally, I want to thank all of those who provided me with personal encouragement to run for mayor and hosted neighborhood get-togethers for the campaign. And of course a special thanks to all my friends and neighbors involved with Save Quincy and Charge 2018 who care deeply and passionately about our community. I’ve enjoyed every minute of listening and conversing with neighbors that but for the campaign I would not have met.


All the best,

Russell Stewart

To the Editor,

The final sentence of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution reads: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Written by James Madison as part of Bill of Rights in 1791, the protection against the government’s confiscation of private property is a fundamental protection enjoyed by all citizens of the United States.

Nevertheless, on February 20, 2018 the City of Cherry Hills Village as a condition for approval of a building permit required Kent Denver School to:

provide the following improvements and land dedications as a condition for approval of the application for the Upper School. . . .Within (30) days of written notice but in no event later than the City’s issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the Upper School building, [the school] shall convey by bargain and sale deed to the City that portion of land necessary to construct a roundabout as determined by the City at the intersection of East Quincy Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.

This condition is an unlawful taking of private property for a public use without compensation. (See the United States Supreme Court decision Nolan v. California Costal Commission, 483 U.S 825 striking down a similar condition on a permit application as a violation of the Fifth Amendment while warning that this type of exaction is “not a valid regulation of land use but an out-and-out plan of extortion.”) If the City decides that it needs the school’s land to construct a public street improvement, it must obtain an appraisal of property and offer the owner fair market value.

Given current listings and sales of comparable real property in Cherry Hills Village, the City’s taking may be the largest ever uncompensated, unconstitutional taking of private land in Colorado history.

Our neighbor Greenwood Village, incorporates protection of private property owners into its Municipal Code. Cherry Hills should do the same -- unwind its unconstitutional taking and reassure residents that the Fifth Amendment continues to protect us all.

Russell Stewart

10 Sandy Lake Road

Cherry Hills Village 80113


To the Editor:

The Colorado Constitution prohibits local governments from assuming multiple-year debt obligations without a taxpayer vote. Ordinarily, municipalities ask voters in an election year to approve the issuance of multiple-year general obligation revenue bonds to finance construction of new public buildings. Last year, the City of Cherry Hills Village, apparently impatient to construct the new City Hall building, found a way to by-pass voter approval by using something called Certificates of Participation (COPs). Under this arrangement, a bank will own and lease the building to the City, and the City will in turn make rental payments to the bank that match the COP payments (about $750,000 per year for 20 years) to bond investors. Because the lease is technically up for annual renewal, the City avoided entering a “multiple-year debt” and avoided the Constitutional requirement for taxpayer approval. This City intends, according to its 2018 Annual Budget, to repay the bank and investors by using new annual revenue (also about $750,000) that the City will enjoy starting in 2020 from the voter’s decision to withdraw from South Suburban Park and Recreation District. There is little chance of default on the lease payments or the COPs since the City cannot function without City Hall. But what was missed by circumventing taxpayer approval was the opportunity for real citizen involvement and robust discussion of the City’s priorities. Especially in our small Village, long-term debt obligations should be put to a vote of the people responsible for paying the bills.


Russell Stewart

10 Sandy Lake Road

Cherry Hills Village