Glendale Eminent Domain Fight: Owners Charged $11K for Mostly Useless Docs

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The Glendale landowners who are fighting the city's authorization of eminent domain say city officials continue to make things difficult for them. The latest? A $11,500 charge for a Colorado Open Records Act request that the Kholghy family says yielded very little useful information. Instead, much of what the city gave them includes old building plans, plumbing manuals, outdated fire inspection reports and documents from long-settled lawsuits, including one over water rights from 1972.

But Glendale deputy city manager Linda Cassaday says the city had no choice. The family's CORA request was "really broad," she explains.

"They asked for everything," Cassaday says, "which means we have to give them everything."

The Kholghy family owns Authentic Persian and Oriental Rugs, a shop on Colorado Boulevard near the corner of Virginia Avenue. They also own 5.4 acres of land under and around the shop. Their land is part of the 22 acres along Cherry Creek that the city plans to turn into an entertainment and dining district called Glendale 180. For years, family members say they worked with the city to develop the land together. But now they're afraid the city will take their land by eminent domain

Last month, city officials authorized the future use of eminent domain to obtain land for Glendale 180.

The Kholghy family has filed a lawsuit in Arapahoe County District Court alleging that the city wrongly rejected its plan for developing its land and the entire entertainment district. Instead, the Glendale Urban Renewal Authority (GURA) chose a plan submitted by Wulfe and Company, a developer in Texas who the family says had been working with the city for months. The family "will now be forced to sell its property against its will for the benefit of a private developer," the lawsuit says.

Saeed Kholghy says the purpose of the CORA request was to help the family piece together how and why Wulfe and Company was chosen and they weren't. The family, through its lawyer, requested thirteen types of documents, including meeting minutes, communications between the city and Wulfe and Company, and communications "regarding any landowner or tenant" located in the area that is slated to become Glendale 180.

That last request is one of the reasons why the family had to pay for copies of so many documents, Cassaday says. "We can’t pick and choose and say, 'Maybe they're interested in this, maybe they're not,'" she says. "We had to go back and pull building plans and elevator inspections and floor plans for every single property that is in that urban renewal area.... We get that that’s not stuff that they are interested in, but it’s what we have to produce under the CORA law."

Cassaday says the city asked the family's lawyer if the family would like to narrow the scope of the request but the lawyer said no. We contacted the family's lawyer but have not heard back.

So what the Kholghy family has ended up with is boxes of documents such as plans for a pedestrian bridge in a public park, documents related to the decommissioning of the city's wastewater treatment plant, and police records and photos from when an arsonist burned down the Sheepskin Factory, a fur shop that was located next to their rug store.

So far, the city has given 25,254 pages to the Kholghy family — and Cassaday says more is coming. The family has paid a total of $11,598. The city wants even more money to produce copies of the rest, but Saeed Kholghy and his brother-in-law Ali Kheirkhahi say they've decided to forgo shelling out 25 cents per page for copies and plan to look at the documents at city hall instead.

They're upset with the way the city responded to their CORA request.

"It's just a game," Kheirkhahi says.

"My resolve is much stronger," Saeed Kholghy adds. "We are going to fight this until the end."

See more photos of documents below.

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