State appeals court upholds Colorado Springs, Broadmoor land swap

The controversy surrounding the Colorado Springs-Broadmoor land swap primarily centers around a little-known swath of land on the southwest side of the city, Strawberry Fields.
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DENVER (The Gazette) - The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously upheld the controversial Strawberry Hill land swap between Colorado Springs and The Broadmoor hotel.

Local nonprofit Save Cheyenne sued in 2016 after Colorado Springs traded more than 180 acres at Strawberry Hill to The Broadmoor for 371 acres split between 14 different parcels. The case was appealed after a District Court judge dismissed it.

Save Cheyenne argued that City Council was prevented from selling or trading the Strawberry Hill property without a referendum because its purchase 1n 1885 had been approved by city residents. But City Attorney Wynetta Massey argued that Colorado Springs is a home rule city, which means the council's decision to approve the swap supersedes the state's laws.

Ruth Obee, of Save Cheyenne, said the appellate court's ruling wasn't necessarily the end of the court fight.

"They're basically saying the previous court didn't do anything egregious, but it doesn't really make a judgment on the actual morality or value of the court case," Obee said. "A worse outcome would be if they sent it back to the District Court because then it becomes a trial and that's expensive."

Save Cheyenne can ask the Colorado Supreme Court to take up the case, Obee said.

"And they have a very good reputation for looking at things in terms of a slightly wider view," she said. The Supreme Court could overturn the deal if it agrees to hear the case, according to opponents.

Mayor John Suthers said he'd be surprised if the Supreme Court looked at the case. Generally, a case must have a new or "novel" issue at stake for the Supreme Court to consider taking it and Save Cheyenne's arguments are neither, he said.

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