Land Owners United, LLC v. Waters

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Division VII, No. 10CA1006, August 18, 2011: Affirms district court order requiring state to disclose records about an investigation of conservation easements appraisals used to obtain Colorado tax credits.

The Colorado Division of Real Estate and the Board of Real Estate Appraisers (collectively the Board), in connection with a statewide investigation of alleged abuse of the Colorado program permitting tax credits for conservation easements, ordered the permanent surrender of the appraiser’s license of two appraisers, William Milenksi and John Stroh. The plaintiffs, Land Owners United LLC and Land Owners United, Inc. (collectively Land Owners), nonprofits that together represent approximately eighty Colorado landowners whose conservation easement tax credits and deductions came under investigation. Land Owners made requests under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA), §§ 24-72-200.1 to -206, C.R.S. 2010, for records about the Milenksi and Stroh proceedings and information relating to the Board’s investigation into allegations of abuse of the conservation easement program. The Board provided some but not all of the requested documents, asserting three exemptions under CORA to justify denial of various records. The trial court found that the Board failed to show cause why most of the requested public records should not have been released, but specified that some confidential information should be redacted from the records, and that two documents were protected by attorney-client privilege. The trial court also awarded attorney fees to Land Owners. The Colorado Appeals Court affirmed the trial court’s decision in its entirety.

Decision available at http://www.cobar.org/opinions/opinion.cfm?opinionid=8185&courtid=1.

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