A confidential agreement stemming from a lawsuit filed against the City of Caldwell by the developers of Cirrus Pointe subdivision paints a picture of secrecy and ineptitude on the part of the City.
The CALDWELL GUARDIAN obtained the settlement dated July 6 in an effort to reveal why no traffic signal was constructed at the intersection of Karcher Road and Indiana Avenue as previously agreed to in the original conditional use permit. In the course of our investigation we learned the city repeatedly changed the terms of the subdivision approval. The changes may well have been in the interest of citizens, but they came well after the original approval and should have been contemplated prior to approval.
Caldwell was originally sued by S&H Homes and Cirrus Pointe subdivision. Plaintiffs sought $3,033,519.00. in damages and five main allegations:
1. breach of developement agreements over enhanced water, sewer over size requirements
2. unjust exactments of city services to to areas not serving the project
3. Taking w/o judgement
4. Ultra Veres city requirement of a traffic light at hwy 55 and indiana avenue with no approval from IDT to erect and construct a traffic signal
5. the requriement of a booster pump to facilitate water pressure for a 5-mile radius at a cost of $590,000.00 plus $$2,500 for electricity to run the pump and orelated damages.
As part of the agreement, Cirrus Pointe will unload responsibility for infrastructure items such as street lights, irrigation, sewer, water. All those items will be maintained at the expense of Caldwell Taxpayers.
The agreement is heavily weighted in favor of the developer and it made no sense why Caldwell allowed the developer to take a hike. A cursory examination of the Cirrus Pointe subdivision revealed numerous weed-strewn vacant lots and one could conclude Caldwell officials ponied up the citizen’s cash as a quasi bailout. However it was also apparent the city hadn’t done its homework prior to approving the development during the “boom” days 5 years ago.
Thanks to the Idaho Open Records law we are able to provide citizens the details of this otherwise secret agreement. The confidentiality clause agreed to by Caldwell officials provides that “The Parties promise not to discuss or disclose conditions of the Settlement Agreement…” and to “Take all reasonable steps to ensure that confidentiality is maintained by all of those parties…”
We find it disturbing and inherently deceitful for local governments to secretly dispose of public funds and agree in writing to keep their actions secret.
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Aug 9, 2010, 10:31 pm
Golly gee whiz…you mean growth doesn’t really pay for itself?
I can’t wait to hear the spin from Caldwell City Hall on this one.
Aug 10, 2010, 8:01 am
The Guardian often describes ineptitude on the part of various agencies/governing bodies in the region and elsewhere. Why then does The Guardian almost always seem take the position that those same agencies/governing bodies are very reasonable in their requirements of developers, builders or any other type of business for that matter? By no means am I defending the City of Caldwell in this case, but a point that gets missed in these discussions is that almost everyone’s home was developed at some point in the past. A leap in logic is then made by existing residents that new homes don’t pay for themselves but somehow their existing home did. The new homes pay the same taxes as existing ones once built and the requirements made by agencies/governing bodies on new developments continually increase as time marches on. So an argument could be made that new development pays more than previous developments that are now considered “existing residents”. But, the owner of a new home soon becomes an “existing resident” of the neighborhood and points their finger at the evil new development down the street saying they are not paying their freight. Maybe, just maybe, sometimes agencies/governing bodies exact more than what’s fair from one particular individual (in this case a developer) and that citizen decides to defend their position. Surely The Guardian understands defending one’s position and even litigating against agencies/governing bodies to defend that position.
Aug 10, 2010, 5:28 pm
I believe you have missed the point Groove Daddy. No one said existing homes paid their way for growth. Rather, we realize that all those developments that have come before failed to pay their way and we must put a stop to it. Those developments in the 90’s are what got us into this problem and having the city or county approve more of the same will not solve the problem. It will only make it worse! Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results! Current developers need to know that cities and counties, as a result of past developer lies and failure to perform as promised, are going to be ” bent over the fencepost” in today’s market. My advice? Develop elsewhere!!