Court Proceedings Begin in Lawsuit Against Broomfield, Two Council Members
Oral arguments were heard Friday morning at the Broomfield Combined Courts in connection with a temporary restraining order filed Oct. 24 in an effort to delay an oil- and gas-related Broomfield City Council vote.
District Judge Michael Goodbee is expected to make a decision on the order early this week. He scheduled a status conference for the lawsuit, which also cites a conflict of interest for city council members Elizabeth Law-Evans and Sam Taylor, potential open meetings violations, issues with record-retention on council member’s private email accounts and phones, and an open records request violation.
Attorneys representing all parties will meet for a status conference at 9 a.m. Dec. 7.
The Broomfield Way and five residents: Madhav Naryan, Lanae Davis, Jodi Behrens Stark, Christopher Cleary and Suzanne Kent, filed the lawsuit after claiming they have not received adequate responses to their CORA requests that sought communications on council business sent through personal email addresses and texts from personal phones.
The suit names the City and County of Broomfield, Law-Evans and Taylor as defendants. Law-Evans and Taylor were represented in court Friday by Gillian Dale, with Hall and Evans, LLC of Denver.
Brenden Desmond with Nathan, Bremer, Dumm & Myers, P.C. is representing Broomfield.
Residents who filed the suit allege that Law-Evans and Taylor should have recused themselves from the Oct. 24 city council vote on whether to approve an operator agreement with Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., to drill 84 wells in Broomfield. That evening, City and County Attorney William Tuthill advised the two that he saw no conflict of interest — and the vote went through, passing six-to-four, with both council members voting yes.
To enact the 14-day restraining order, attorneys had to prove not doing so would cause irreparable harm.
David Milender and Katherine Kynn Merlin, who represented the residents, said the operator agreement lays out a development schedule, which includes clearing pad sites, but does not set out a specific construction timeline. They also pointed out that Broomfield has a city council meeting Nov. 14 and could approve easements or turning over mineral leases.
After consulting with Broomfield staff, Desmond said no oil and gas issue will be on that agenda. He suggested Extraction’s legal counsel be present at future court appearances because Broomfield does not know what the company is planning.
Extraction has not filed drilling permits yet, which would still need to go before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission for approval. The company still has a spacing application for the Lowell South and Lowell North pads planned for COGCC’s Dec. 11 and 12 docket. The hearing will take place in Denver.
The Broomfield Way began as a small community group with members who wanted more information and seek transparency in local government.
Broomfield attorneys have until Dec. 17 to file a motion to dismiss and then plaintiffs will be given about a week to respond.
Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios