Fort Collins City Council postpones Hughes Stadium rezoning decision

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Fort Collins City Council will hold off its final call on rezoning the former Hughes Stadium site until a city board has decided how to proceed with a related ethics complaint.

Council was set to vote on the matter on second reading Tuesday, which would’ve finalized the 165-acre site’s zoning as half lower density and half higher density, barring any change of heart among council members. They previously voted 4-3 in favor of the split zoning, but council planned to discuss the issue again and accept more public comment because the vote wasn’t unanimous.

Mayor Wade Troxell asked to postpone the second reading until Jan. 21, about three weeks after the ethics review board’s deadline for reviewing the complaint. Council unanimously agreed.

The complaint, filed by Nicholas Frey and Mary Satterfield Grant, argues Troxell and Mayor pro-tem Kristin Stephens should’ve recused themselves from the Nov. 5 vote on the zoning issue because they’re both Colorado State University employees. CSU is under contract to sell the former Hughes Stadium site for $10 million to developer Lennar Homes, which plans to build hundreds of housing units at the site off Overland Trail at the edge of the foothills.

Troxell and Stephens were part of the majority that voted on first reading to split the site into two zones: one with higher density that will allow more homes and one that will allow fewer. Without their votes, the rezoning would have failed 3-2. 

A large community group called PATHS (Planning Action to Transform Hughes) has been pushing for the site to be converted to open space or zoned at the lowest density possible.

The purchase-and-sale agreement between CSU and Lennar includes a “feasibility period,” during which Lennar can back out of the purchase. The feasibility period has been extended four times and now expires Dec. 16, but it could be extended again.

Fort Collins’ Ethics Review Board has until Dec. 30 to screen the ethics complaint and determine whether it should be formally investigated. City Council will then review the recommendation and decide whether to adopt it.

The three-member ethics review board includes Stephens and council members Julie Pignataro and Ken Summers with Troxell as an alternate, but Stephens and Troxell can’t be involved in the review because they’re named in the complaint. Another council member will fill in for Stephens.

Troxell said his employment at CSU didn’t play into his vote on the zoning, but he wants to wait on the second reading to maintain transparency in local government.

This story will be updated with additional information.

Reporter Pat Ferrier contributed to this report.

Jacy Marmaduke covers government accountability for the Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support stories like this one with a digital subscription to the Coloradoan.

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