Denver Direct: Setback for CINQ?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Setback for CINQ?

Ed. note: This is a very long piece regarding the latest information on the proposed beltway expansion being challenged by Citizens Involved in the Northwest Quadrant (CINQ).




From CINQ – A lot has recently happened and I have delayed release of this information due to Christmas. In summary, Golden lost the lawsuit but it is preparing an appeal, to be joined by Superior and other organizations. Many close to this case have commented that the Federal judge has made a grossly poor decision. We are aware that the judge was lobbied by at least one very high profile federal official, which is highly unusual. This speaks to the lengths supporters of the beltway will go. We are very glad that Golden will seek an emergency injunction and appeal the case. Maybe we will get a fair shake from a federal appeals court. There’s a lot here, and information is provided in sequential order as it was received by us. 
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Today’s Boulder Camera reports that the federal case regarding the transfer of land at Rocky Flats for the Jefferson Parkway recently decided in favor of U.S. Fish & Wildlife has been appealed by the cities of Superior and Golden and two environmental groups. The article is on line at http://www.dailycamera.com/superior-news/ci_22255712/superior-environmentalists-appeal-jefferson-parkway-ruling
 

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LeRoy Moore, Ph.D.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
P. O. Box 1156, Boulder, Colorado 80306-1156 USA E-mail address: [email protected]
 
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Superior, environmentalists appeal Jefferson Parkway ruling
By Erica Meltzer Boulder Camera Staff Writer
Posted:   12/24/2012 03:53:29 PM MST
Updated:   12/24/2012 03:54:35 PM MST
 
Environmental groups and two area municipalities seeking to block a land swap that would allow the development of the Jefferson Parkway have filed an appeal of a federal judge’s decision to dismiss their consolidated lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Philip A. Brimmer ruled Friday that the land swap deal meets the legal standards needed to proceed.
On Monday, WildEarth Guardians, Rocky Mountain Wild, the town of Superior and the city of Golden filed a request that the U.S. Court of Appeals review the decision.
The elaborate land deal involves the trading of a 617-acre parcel near the southwestern corner of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, known as Section 16, for a 300-foot-wide transportation right-of-way on the eastern edge of the refuge that runs parallel to Indiana Avenue.
Completion of the deal is critical to acquiring the necessary right-of-way to build a high-speed toll road through the area, a road the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority — an entity representing Broomfield, Arvada and Jefferson County — says will nearly complete a regional beltway around metro Denver.
The deal first landed in federal court late last year when the town of Superior sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is in charge of the wildlife refuge and is seeking to add Section 16 to its acreage. Superior says an insufficient environmental review has been performed.
The refuge was formerly part of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility, and Superior has disputed the service’s findings that the land swap would have “no significant impact” on the natural or human environment. Town officials have expressed concern that any construction in the area could disturb plutonium that accumulated in the soil on the site during the decades it was an active nuclear weapons plant.
That suit was later consolidated with similar suits filed by the city of Golden and by environmental groups WildEarth Guardians and Rocky Mountain Wild.
On Friday, environmentalists slammed the judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit.
“This ruling opens the door for more sprawl and unplanned development along the Front Range, and at a time when open space is critical to our quality of life and the prosperity of our communities,” Rocky Mountain Wild Conservation Director Josh Pollock said in a news release. “The highway won today, but in reality, our wildlife, our clean air and our future generations have lost.”
The land swap has been delayed several times already, and officials have said the deal might fall through if progress isn’t made soon.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or [email protected]
 
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Beltway Update from WildEarth Guardians
To:  Interested Citizens
From:  Jeremy Nichols, Climate and Energy Program Director for WildEarth Guardians
Re:  Next Steps on the Beltway
Date:  December 24, 2012
As many have probably heard, last Friday, December 21, Judge Brimmer in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado rejected lawsuits filed by the Town of Superior, the City of Golden, and WildEarth Guardians and Rocky Mountain Wild, and upheld a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to transfer the eastern edge of the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge to the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority for the construction of a new high speed tollway.  That tollway is intended to be a link in the final stretch of a completed beltway that will connect the Northwest Parkway with C-470.
 
The ruling was not for lack of an aggressive offense.  WildEarth Guardians, Rocky Mountain Wild, the Town of Superior, and the City of Golden all brought great legal arguments to bear and litigated valiantly.  Unfortunately, the Judge gave short shrift to these arguments, ruling unbelievably, for example, that the tollway would not spur any additional development around Rocky Flats or otherwise trigger more future highway construction.  This logic was particularly disturbing given that developers have been openly advocating for the beltway (see, for example, Candelas’ public billboards).
 
This is a particularly stinging defeat for those interested in protecting open space, clean air, and wildlife habitat along the Front Range.  It’s also a defeat for those who stand to bear the brunt of the impacts of the Jefferson Parkway, as well as future beltway construction, in the form of increased traffic, more sprawl, more noise, etc..  Those living along Highway 93 near Golden or near Highway 128 in Superior will ultimately be hit hard. 
 
Even more disconcerting is the ruling comes as a series of transactions are planned to take place this week that, if completed, would make our ability to reverse the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision almost impossible and virtually guarantee that the Jefferson Parkway Public Highway Authority will build its tollway.  It is critical that we do everything we can to avoid this “transactional cliff.”
 
To this end, WildEarth Guardians and Rocky Mountain Wild, as well the Town of Superior, are doing everything they can to avoid this “transactional cliff.”  We have just filed appeals of Judge Brimmer’s ruling with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.  WildEarth Guardians and Rocky Mountain Wild’s appeal can be downloaded here (the Town of Superior filed its own and I don’t have it yet).  In addition, we just filed a motion with Judge Brimmer asking him to enjoin the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision pending the resolution of our appeal.  That motion can be downloaded here.  If Judge Brimmer denies this motion, we intend to seek an emergency injunction from the 10th Circuit.  We’re hopeful that if we have to seek an emergency ruling from the 10th Circuit, we will get an order by the end of the week.
 
The City of Golden has so far not signalled whether it intends to appeal and has so far not joined WildEarth Guardians, Rocky Mountain Wild, and the Town of Superior.
 
There is no guarantee that we will win.  However, we’re certain that if we don’t exercise every option available to hold the line against the tollway, we will lose.
 
It was our hope that we would have better news this holiday season, and that we could enjoy the gift of safe open space, protected wildlife, clean air, and a tollway-free future.  Still, please don’t give up hope altogether.  We do a need a miracle this week, but more importantly, rest assured that there are committed advocates who intend to keep the fight going, even if we can’t avoid the “transactional cliff.”
 
On that note, please consider supporting the efforts of WildEarth Guardians and Rocky Mountain Wild this week.  With limited resources, pro bono legal representation, and unending passion for protecting the Front Range, we’ve brought forward a powerful lawsuit and are gearing up to put even more time, energy, and resources into trying to overcome this latest setback.  Just today, WildEarth Guardians paid $455 to file the appeal of Judge Brimmer’s ruling with the 10th Circuit.
 
Our nonprofits are both lean organizations, accomplishing major feats for the environment with limited resources.  Our attorneys do not work for big firms and they don’t do it for the money.  Your support can help us continue to mount an effective legal offense and ensure that we can continue to do everything possible to protect the Front Range from the tollway.
 
Donate to WildEarth Guardians by clicking here >> and to Rocky Mountain Wild by clicking here >>
 
Thank you to all who have supported us so far.  Hopefully we will have some good news to report here soon.  In the meantime, stay tuned for more.
 
Sincerely,
Jeremy Nichols
Climate and Energy Program Director
WildEarth Guardians
1536 Wynkoop, Suite 301 – Denver, CO 80202
303-573-4898 x 1303
www.wildearthguardians.org
 
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Hello all:
 
This just came to me. Attached is the court document announcing that the plaintiffs in the case against U.S. Fish & Wildlife lost the suit to stop transfer of property for the Jefferson Parkway. Unless the case is appealed, the court is giving FWS the green light to proceed with the land transfer and I suspect this will happen promptly. It probably at this point can be stopped only by an injunction, and I have no idea how difficult this will be for the plaintiffs to get.
 
Also attached is a letter by the Mayor of Golden announcing their plans, with no mention of an appeal.
 
LeRoy
 
 

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LeRoy Moore, Ph.D.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
P. O. Box 1156, Boulder, Colorado 80306-1156 USA E-mail address: [email protected]
 
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  
For more information, contact:
Communications Manager/PIO
Karlyn Tilley
Office: 303-384-8132
Cell: 303-949-1414
[email protected]
 
Jefferson Parkway clears legal hurdle but still faces other obstacles
 
 
Golden, Colo. ¬— December 22, 2012 — Despite a federal judge’s ruling authorizing a land transfer for the proposed Jefferson Parkway, the planned toll road still faces significant obstacles, Golden noted today.
 
On Dec. 21, Federal District Judge Philip A. Brimmer issued an opinion upholding the federal government’s decision to transfer land on the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge for construction of the Jefferson Parkway.  In December 2011 the Town of Superior filed suit challenging the decision to transfer the land.  Shortly thereafter, the City of Golden and two environmental groups joined the lawsuit.
 
“While Golden and its co-plaintiffs did not win the lawsuit, we have made progress on the much bigger issue of awareness, which we are hopeful will put the protection of Golden in the forefront of any future transportation plans,” said Golden Mayor Marjorie Sloan.  “We are pleased that the region has begun to focus on identifying more comprehensive solutions to Colorado’s transportation challenges while recognizing the unique needs of our City.  Out of the 150 miles of existing or proposed beltway segments circling Denver, only the five miles in Golden would go through an established community.”
 
Sloan added: “The judge’s decision by no means completes the Jefferson Parkway.  Proponents still have substantial hurdles, not least of which is securing taxpayer dollars to make the project financially viable.” 
 
Golden had joined the lawsuit in January to halt the transfer by the Fish and Wildlife Service of land on the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge for the construction of the proposed Jefferson Parkway, arguing that the Service decided to convey the land without adequate environmental reviews or mitigation.
 
The lawsuit alleged that the Fish and Wildlife Service (1) failed to conduct adequate environmental analysis of the effects of the property conveyance and the Jefferson Parkway, (2) unlawfully rejected Golden’s separate application for the strip of land, and (3) failed to ensure that environmental effects on the Refuge were minimized.  Golden identified a number of serious harms to the City and its residents, including congestion, noise and air pollution from increased traffic on already-congested roads.
 
While pursuing its lawsuit challenging the land transfer, Golden has continued to work constructively with neighboring communities and the State to identify collaborative solutions to the region’s transportation challenges that satisfy all parties.  Golden also engaged its citizens in a community conversation that evaluated possible road designs and established parameters for Golden’s discussions with these other entities.
 
“Communities across the region can address our common transportation needs in a responsible, cooperative manner,” said Golden Mayor Pro Tem Joe Behm.  “In that spirit, the City of Golden this year has maintained a dialogue with neighboring communities and the Colorado Department of Transportation, looking for solutions that work for various parties.  That remains our approach and our commitment today, just as it was before the judge’s ruling.”
 
“The lawsuit was one tool to promote appropriate regional transportation solutions,” Behm added.  “Golden will maintain its commitment to these discussions, with the goal of identifying solutions that work for the entire region, even as it preserves its right to energetically defend its residents against efforts that would harm them.”
 
# # #
From: LeRoy Moore [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Saturday, December 22, 2012 5:41 PM
To: GaleBiggs; HarveyNichols; LeRoyMoore; MargotZallen; Pjelofson; RickBrownrigg; RobMedina; ChuckNewby
Subject: Fwd: Plaintiffs lost Jeff Parkway lawsuit
 
Hello all:
 
This just came to me. Attached is the court document announcing that
the plaintiffs in the case against U.S. Fish & Wildlife lost the suit
to stop transfer of property for the Jefferson Parkway. Unless the
case is appealed, the court is giving FWS the green light to proceed
with the land transfer and I suspect this will happen promptly. It
probably at this point can be stopped only by an injunction, and I
have no idea how difficult this will be for the plaintiffs to get.
 
Also attached is a letter by the Mayor of Golden announcing their
plans, with no mention of an appeal.
 
LeRoy Moore, Ph.D.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
P. O. Box 1156, Boulder, Colorado 80306-1156 USA
E-mail address: [email protected]