Home Rule City’s Power to Sell Real Estate Affirmed by Court of Appeals
Colorado cities and towns are either “statutory” or “home rule.” To become a home rule municipality, the voters of the city or town must approve a home rule charter prepared by a commission of citizens. Home rule cities and towns have the power to pass laws that may conflict with Colorado statutes in matters of purely local concern, which gives them greater powers than statutory cities or towns. For example, a home rule town has the power to condemn property outside its municipal limits. This power allowed our client the Town of New Castle to negotiate with a private landowner to open a new road that took traffic away from a route heavily used by school children.
In February 2018, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding a land exchange between Colorado Springs and the Broadmoor hotel. The City transferred 189.5 acres known as “Strawberry Fields” to the Broadmoor, with a condition that the land be open to the public except for 8.5 acres where a new building would be constructed. In exchange, the City acquired more than 300 acres of land and trails to add to its park system. A citizen’s group sued the City and argued that state law required the City to hold an election before it could transfer land to the private company. In the case of Save Cheyenne v. City of Colorado Springs, the Court of Appeals held that the City’s home rule charter included specific procedures about how and when the City could sell land, including parks, and therefore the charter controlled over the state statute, and the deal was upheld.
Garfield & Hecht, P.C. represents both home rule municipalities and statutory towns. Attorneys in our municipal practice group have advised many towns about the home rule process and guided both New Castle and Basalt through their processes to become home rule. For more information about going home rule and local government law, please contact David H. McConaughy (970-925-1936 ext. 810, ), Mary Elizabeth Geiger (970-925-1936 ext. 813, ) or Haley Carmer (970-925-1936 ext. 815 ).