Middlebrooke's Sensible Compromise

August 11, 1994

When homeowners' associations and developers face off, there is usually a loser. If preliminary indications are correct, the Middlebrook Homeowners Association and developers George F. and Timothy Grogan may turn out to be winners.

For two years, the homeowners' association and the Grogans have waged an acrimonious battle over the fate of the development's swimming pool. Claiming they could not make a profit operating the pool, the Grogans closed it in 1991. The next year they filled in the pool and submitted plans to raze the bathhouse and build a five-lot subdivision.

City officials did not favor the plan because the Westminster master plan designated the parcel as open space. By the time the Grogans' subdivision plan arrived at the Planning Commission, the number of planned houses had been reduced to four. That did not mollify nearby residents. They mobilized against the project, claiming the loss of open space would reduce the neighborhood's ambience and reduce the value of their homes.

Westminster's Planning Commission and City Council agreed with the Middlebrooke residents, contending that the original subdivision was approved on the condition that it have 17 acres of open space. If the pool property were developed, the amount of open space would drop below the required acreage.

Within months, the Grogans sued Westminster for $141,320, alleging the city had made the lot worthless. Since the family could not develop the land or make a profit, the Grogans asked the court to allow them to develop the houses or receive the current assessed value.

The tentative out-of-court compromise, which still must receive the Westminster City Council's approval, calls for the Grogans to develop three houses in return for donating a half-acre to the homeowners' association. The homeowners seem willing to lose the pool and gain three houses in return for the permanent open space.

The community's staunch opposition to the loss of this open space is a good indication of the extent people will fight to preserve greenery. The compromise between the Grogans and the community was possible only because the community's fervent wishes to preserve existing open space were not ignored.

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