August 2011

Denver, and specifically The Spire, made the New York Times.  The article discusses parking requirements and the impact of parking requirements on development. As Denver’s light rail expansion and associated transit oriented developments continue, RTD, local governments and developers will no doubt continue to grapple with how best to address parking. Too little parking at a development, when other areas have plenty, can be a real deterrent for businesses to locate there because customers won’t want to deal with the hassle of finding a parking space.  Too much parking can be a financial drain on a project, both at the time of initial development in terms of development costs, and after completion in terms of operational costs.  In a city that has historically been car-dependent, trying to figure out the right parking equation for TODs may ultimately be a case of trial and error. As earlier reported, RTD has adopted a flexible policy with respect to parking at TODs.  We look forward to seeing this flexible policy put into practice.

By: James T. Johnson and Kimberly A. Martin

In May of this year, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 11-1146, which amends the statutory definition of “agricultural land” for property tax purposes.  Historically, land underlying a residence located on a parcel of property that otherwise was classified as “agricultural land” was also classified as agricultural land for property tax purposes.  This classification resulted in the residence being qualified for more favorable “agricultural” property tax treatment as compared to the residential classification.  

Under House Bill 11-1146, now excluded from the classification of “agricultural land” is up to two acres of land upon which a “residential improvement” is located if the residential improvement is not “integral to an agricultural operation” conducted on the land.  Any such excluded land will be classified as “residential land” for property tax purposes, but the remainder of the property would retain its agricultural classification.  If the residence is integral to the operation of a farm or ranch, the classification does not change.  Further, vacant land or any other land upon which a residence is not located, whether or not subdivided, is not affected by this legislation. 

House Bill 11-1146 will apply to the 2012 property tax year and all subsequent tax years.  For a more complete discussion of this new law, see our Client Alert on the topic.

In May, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law Senate Bill 11-234 – Concerning Residential Real Property Transfer Fee Covenants.  The bill is targeted at prohibiting fees payable upon the transfer of residential real property to individuals and entities where such fees do not touch and concern the real property.  The common law likely already prohibited such fees.  Nevertheless, the bill became effective immediately, the General Assembly having determined that such was necessary “for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety.”  Apparently, the General Assembly identified a rising popularity trend for such fees, and it wanted to thwart their growth in Colorado.

The bill does essentially four things.  First, it prospectively prohibits fees payable upon the conveyance of residential real property, except for transfer fees that touch and concern residential real property, including payments to lenders, brokers, lessors, governmental and quasi-governmental entities, homeowner’s associations, and certain non-profit entities.  Second, it narrows the circumstances under which prohibited fees established prior to the effective date of the bill are payable.  Third, it provides penalties for recording documents requiring the payment of such fees.  And fourth, under certain circumstances, it provides a quick mechanism for removing covenants requiring the payment of such fees. 

For a more complete discussion about the bill, please see my Client Alert on the topic.  Any individuals or entities that have either considered or implemented a transfer fee should be aware of the enforceability issues raised by this bill.