The Crestone Eagle, December 2003:

Baca Grande POA approves community center easement right-of-way upon vote of the membership

by David Nicholas, POA Affairs

At the monthly meeting of the POA Board on November 20, before a standing-room-only audience of members and friends, Directors voted 2-0 to approve the easement right-of-way across the greenbelt to link the Baca with the proposed site of the Crestone/Baca Community Center. Director Michael Miller made the motion and was seconded by Director Lee Mitchell.

Of the remaining five members of the Board, POA President Robert Philleo was not present and both Vice President Clyde Lovett and Director Anne Marie Lindsey recused themselves from voting because of real or perceived conflicts of interest.

The motion came after much debate prior to the meeting and during consideration of the issue and was passed with seven qualifications.

The motion composed by Director Miller states:

We (the board) approve the easement as requested by the Community Center Project subject to the following conditions:
1. That the ten acres proposed for the community (center) site is deeded to the community center project;
2. The easement is revocable if the community center project has not completed construction of a community center building in ten years;
3. If the subdivision or zoning change request required for the community center is not approved by the county;
4. That it is conditional to no transfer of the property to any entity other than the Community Center Project.
5. That there is no net loss of open space, that a number of lots or acreage equal to the acreage lost or dedicated to the access road would be provided by the community center project;
6. This easement is subject to the approval of the membership;
7. In the event that the easement reverts to greenbelt, the land is restored to its original condition.

After some discussion about proper wording to be made at a later stage by Director Mitchell, and with members reminding the board that they were voting on the wording now, Director Miller put the motion and was carried to the acclamation of the audience.

“This is the town forum that I love,” said Director Miller after the vote. “This is really a good session.”

Pre-meeting discussion
Prior to the meeting at a get-together put on by the Board, Vice President Lovett suggested that people with opinions about the issue be called upon.

First to do so was David ‘Dee’ Laird of the Governance Affairs Committee, who said that the Board has obviously tried to pre-empt the covenants by bypassing this mandated procedure of bringing the easement request before the Environmental and Architectural Committee. But the most critical issue was the obvious conflicts of interest, which apply to some board members. Robert Philleo was an obvious conflict of interest since he sits (on the board) as the President, and is offering the land that brings up this easement request. Mr. Laird also identified Ms. Lindsey and Mr. Lovett as having conflicts of interest in the matter. That left two out of five board members who could vote on the matter and Mr. Laird requested a deferment.

Mr. Lovett replied as to his conflict of interest, that according to his research there was no conflict where he was concerned, because his wife sat on the Community Center Committee. Further, Mr. Lovett responded that he had consulted the POA attorney, who had replied that on a reading of the statute, he had no conflict of interest, but that it gave the appearance of a conflict.

At the time of the vote Mr. Lovett chose to recuse himself to avoid further concern.

Next, Kizzen Laki, the Mayor of Crestone, addressed the meeting. Ms. Laki said that the Crestone Town Council had addressed the issue at the Council’s last meeting. The proposed Community Center’s boundary is in the town of Crestone, she said. “There was discussion about having road access from Crestone to the community center property.”

Ms. Laki said that “the cool thing about where this community property is, is that it is the only piece of property here which spans the Crestone borders with the Baca Grande boundary. The county has jurisdiction over it. The POA has no jurisdiction over it. It is the only bridge of land that is there. And it is being offered to us as a community center. I think this a incredible opportunity.”

Reflecting that access across the greenbelt would not be a shortcut and that there would be some good speed bumps, Ms. Laki made the point that “…if the POA is not going to grant access, we (the town) do not want to grant access. . . we have to meet halfway on this one.”

The Baca Grande Land Use Administrator, Lisa Cyriacks asked whether there was a deed for the property being offered, prior to an easement being granted? Tom Dessain of the Community Center committee replied that it was in process. During the formal meeting, attorney and POA member, Thomas Hall, advised that he had been instructed by Robert Philleo to draw a warranty deed for the property transfer.

Next up was Linda Eickhoff, a director of the Crestone/Baca Land Trust, but speaking for herself, regarding members who did not live here, but paid dues. “I think we need to ask everybody’s opinion when we are making major changes of this size.”

The final word before the meeting was from Mark Jacobi, a former POA Director. He made the point that rights-of-way had been granted if you could not access that piece of property. “There is a precedent,” said Mr. Jacobi, “but what we did was we encumbered those deeds. That’s something to keep in mind during this entire discussion. You can make sure that this property will always be zoned to be nothing but a community center.”

The formal part of the meeting
At the agenda item on the Easement for the Community Center, both Mr. Lovett and Ms. Lindsey recused themselves.

Tom Dessain, President of the Crestone Baca Community Performing Arts Association and a member of the Community Center Steering Committee presented the request for an easement for access to the land across the greenbelt that is presently sited for the Community Center.

Mr. Dessain assured the audience that the Community Center would not be interested if Mr. Philleo had wanted to use the access for something other than the use of the Community Center. He also stated that the nearest property owners, four of the five homes on the cul-de-sac to be affected by the right-of-way, were in favor of it, while one was not sure.

The right-of-way from Camino Baca Grande to Mr. Philleo’s property would go through the trees, said Mr. Dessain, and would be largely out of sight.

The access from Crestone would be a continuation of Alder Street south to a platted road, Lime Avenue, running east to access the property.

The Baca Grande POA Land Use Administrator, Lisa Cyriacks, asked again about the deed. Mr. Dessain replied that there was no deed at present.

Mr. Dessain was asked about the land at the intersection of Road T and the Baca entrance directly to the east and was informed that the owner Joanne Boyce was not interested in having Road T extended along her property line.

Dee Laird asked about the lack of a deed and wondered if granting an easement was not putting the “cart before the horse.” There should be land acquired before the easement is granted, Mr. Laird said.

Mr. Dessain replied that while he agreed with Mr. Laird, you have to get the ball rolling in every direction that you can. If the board chose to grant the easement with stipulations, such as attaining the land and the zoning, that would be their choice.

The question about getting water to the property was raised. Ms. Lindsey replied that she had checked into it with the Colorado Division of Water Resources in Alamosa. The DWR said that Saguache County would have to grant the subdivision application before the DWR would grant a permit. If such an application were granted, then a study would ensue for a Commercial-exempt well permit to be granted for 108,000 gallons a year. “It wouldn’t give us a swimming pool, but it will give us a commercial kitchen, it will give us staff rooms, it will give us those things we want in a community center,” said Ms Lindsey.

Other speakers before the motion was considered included Nancy Van Domelen, Rebecca Lovett, Mark Jacoby and Thomas Hall.

Director Miller then began composing the motion made up of the seven points.