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Owners of Palizzi Farm say an eminent domain condemnation would kill the Brighton farm



Owners of Palizzi Farm say an eminent domain condemnation would kill the Brighton farm

A Brighton vegetable farm that began operations as the Great Depression spread across the country 95 years ago says it will have to close if a housing developer takes possession of part of its land through eminent domain.

The Parkland Metropolitan District No. 1, which is overseeing the development of the 140-acre Bromley Farms development at the southeast corner of East Bromley Lane and Chambers Road, filed a “petition for condemnation” in Adams County District Court last month. It says its project will require the developer to build a “regional storm drain” — complete with pipes, culverts, manholes and inlets — on part of Palizzi Farm.

Jack Hoagland is the president and chairman of Parkland and is also listed as the owner of Bromley Farms in the subdivision plan documents filed with Brighton.

In their April 3 filing, Parkland’s attorneys argued that in order to move forward with construction of Bromley Farms in a “timely manner,” the Metro District “requires and is entitled to immediate possession of the subject property” under state law .

A hearing on the eminent domain claim is scheduled for Monday in an Adams County courtroom.

Nestled between a supermarket, a strip mall and residential areas, Palizzi Farms is seen here at their location on the 15000 block of East Bromley Lane in a September 2023 image in Brighton, Colorado. (Screenshot via Google Maps)

On the Save Palizzi Farm website lays out the consequences of such a claim in stark terms.

“This action would force the closure of the Palizzi farm stand on Bromley Lane, as 90% of the produce sold there is grown on the farm,” the website said. “Palizzi Farm would lose all the crops already planted, have to pay its hired workers for the entire season and be unable to supply the five different summer farmers markets it attends annually.”

It participates in farmers markets in Evergreen, Parker and Denver during the warm months. Monday’s decision, the farm said on its website, “will determine the fate of the 2024 agricultural season and ultimately Palizzi Farm’s ability to operate their produce farm in the future.”

Palizzi Farm, which began growing vegetables and plants in 1929, is located on the northern edge of what is also called Beautiful valley – a 5,000-acre tract of mostly fertile farmland in Adams County, south of Brighton, dedicated to preserving Colorado’s agricultural past.

Owner Debora Palizzi did not return calls seeking comment and attorneys representing the farm declined to speak about the case. The Parkland Metro District and its attorneys also declined to comment for this story.

In a motion to dismiss the condemnation effort filed in court on April 30, Palizzi Farm attorneys said Parkland “did not negotiate in good faith with respondents.”

“There are other feasible routes available that would not damage defendant landowner’s property to the extent of the route chosen,” the motion reads. “Petitioner chose a route in the middle of defendant landowner’s property, knowing that this would cause major damage that could be avoided.”

The motion accuses Parkland of choosing Palizzi Farm for its stormwater infrastructure, not to serve a public interest, but “to save the developer money.” Lawyers for the metro district have countered in its own lawsuit that it made multiple offers to acquire the property “but was unable to reach a voluntary agreement to acquire the subject property.”

In a letter filed late last week, Parkland attorneys said the district offered Palizzi Farm $55,000 for easements on the property for the drainage project, but the offer was rejected. It then submitted $300,000 and that too was rejected, the brief said.

The metro district is justifying its eminent domain action by saying the stormwater work is “necessary to the public health, safety and welfare of the property owners and future residents” of Bromley Farms.

Eminent domain, which allows governments to use private property for public use — while giving the property owner just compensation — has a colorful history in Colorado. It almost always fuels the passion of private property advocates, who often argue that it is a form of government overreach.

Several eminent domain actions — or threats thereof — have emerged in recent years, including a dispute last year in which Denver threatened to foreclose on property owned by a church camp in Coal Creek Canyon to gain access to a 448-acre ranch that had been donated. to the city as a mountain park in 2021. Eminent domain was put into use in Thornton a few months earlier, when a court awarded a long-derelict shopping center to the city, which is now cleaning up contamination on the site in preparation for the the demolition of the center in the coming months.