AURORA, Colo. — The Murphy Creek Metropolitan District 3 has agreed to restore full access to a local alley after the City of Aurora filed a lawsuit.
Denver7 spoke to concerned residents in July, who said an expanded lawn obstructed access to their homes and garages — particularly access for emergency services. The City of Aurora subsequently filed a lawsuit against the district, claiming the change was made without clearance from city officials.
Murphy Creek District official accused of expanding lawn to block public access
Since Denver7 first covered the issue, at least 300 residents in the Murphy Creek neighborhood signed a petition to reverse the changes and restore alley access. The board announced acceptance of the petition and its plans to honor the residents’ requests in a community meeting Tuesday evening.
At times, the meeting was quite contentious and devolved into shouting matches.
A remaining point of controversy is who will pay for the reversal of the project and any punitive damages that could come from the city’s lawsuit. The board said it would split the cost for the project with the owner of the adjacent property, Matthew West, who also serves as the board’s president. West has recused himself from decision on the matter, according to the board.
Restoration is expected to cost $5,000, according to Board Vice President Doug Schriner.
Stacy Dixon, a resident of Murphy Creek, said she and her neighbors are frustrated that they will be paying for the project and its fallout through their metro district. However, she was relieved to hear that the alley will be restored.
“The alley was changed without many neighbors being notified, or even being aware that this was going to happen, and that did block a thoroughfare that’s needed in this community, ” Dixon told Denver7. “And so, we’re glad that they were able to keep their promise and restore the alley.”
Schriner, addressing the contention over cost sharing, told Denver7 the decision reflected the nature of the property ownership.
“Half of the property affected was metro district property,” Schriner said. “Therefore, the metro district felt it was incumbent upon the metro district to pay for their portion of first, the removal of concrete and installation of sod, and now, the removal of the sod and the installation of concrete.”
The City of Aurora’s lawsuit against the Murphy Creek Metro District still stands. An attorney for the metro district board said at the community meeting that discussions to settle the lawsuit will begin with the decision to undo the alley project. It is unclear if the city will seek further damages in its lawsuit, but if it does, the metro district or its insurance would be on the hook for it upon a judgment in the city’s favor.
The metro district is ready to begin the construction process as soon as it receives permission to do so from the city, the board said during the community meeting.
This whole ordeal has brought many neighbors into the process of local government, and several said during the meeting they planned to regularly attend metro district meetings in the future. Schriner, reflecting on the meeting after its conclusion, said he hopes his neighborhood can take the temperature down as it discusses this issue and others.
“We’ve devolved into an environment where we can’t be civil with each other,” he said. “And I’m sorry about that. I truly am.”