Developer sues city of Fruita on rejected project

The developer of a proposed 24-townhome project in Fruita is suing the City Council, alleging council members abused their discretion by rejecting the project.

In a complaint filed last month, Dan Wilson, the attorney for land owner and developer Darwin Wirtz, claimed the development met all of the city’s code requirements. The 5.31-acre parcel is located near the Interstate 70 frontage road and Kaley Street.

Attorneys for the city have denied Wilson’s allegations.

The City Council in January turned away Wirtz’s planned-unit development application and concept plan for the project after neighbors complained that the only initial access to the project would be via a neighboring subdivision. They claimed that would create too much traffic and a safety hazard.

Residents also were concerned the multifamily project would affect the value of neighboring single-family homes and dry up irrigation water.

In the lawsuit, Wilson noted city planners recommended approval of the project and that the development met the goals of Fruita’s Community Plan, which encourages infill development.

He claimed Wirtz had worked extensively with city planners and the Planning Commission to revise the development.

“The testimony and ‘record’ available to the City Council compels one result: That Plaintiff’s application must be approved,” Wilson wrote in the lawsuit.

In a response, Earl Rhodes and Philip Martin, attorneys for the city, rejected Wilson’s claims and contended Colorado’s Governmental Immunity Act makes City Council members immune from legal action.

“Defendants’ decision was consistent with applicable city standards and provisions,” they wrote.


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