• Russell Stewart

Letter to the Editor of the Villager: Unjust Compensation

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


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