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Harris Ranch family, developer sue residents opposed to taxing district

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The developer behind Harris Ranch is taking a group of neighbors to court for their campaign to oppose the community infrastructure district in the neighborhood.

On Wednesday, the Harris Family Limited Partnership, Barber Valley Development Inc, and Doug Fowler’s residential development company LeNir filed suit against the Harris Ranch Community Infrastructure District Taxpayers’ Association for “grossly defaming” and “intentionally interfering” with the ongoing buildout of the Southeast Boise subdivision.

The three plaintiffs are requesting the judge give Lenir, the Harris Family Limited Partnership and Barber Valley Development Inc. a permanent injunction to stop the taxpayers association from spreading what they called damaging information about their business, defaming the development company, and using the Harris Ranch name.

[Boise taxpayers will front cash to pay for potential legal fight over Harris Ranch taxing district]

“Defendants’ public allegations have impugned plaintiff’s reputation with homeowners, prospective homeowners, contractors, potential bond purchasers, members of the community, prospective buyers, and buyers already in contract and in escrow for the acquisition of property within Harris Ranch,” the complaint said.

Crowley declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing advice from the groups’ attorney.

The Idaho Statesman previously reported the lawsuit.

The latest in months-long dust-up

The taxpayers association, headed up by Harris Ranch residents Larry Crowley and Bill Doyle, sparred with Harris Ranch developers for months this year. Since it formed earlier this year, the group sent roughly a dozen letters to the Harris Ranch CID Board and the three city council members who serve on it raising questions about proposed projects the developer asked to be reimbursed for with taxpayer money and the constitutionality of the district itself.

Community Infrastructure Districts are special taxing districts where homeowners pay special property taxes designated for infrastructure improvements in the area. The taxpayers’ association threatened possible litigation if the board went through with approving a series of projects worth $7 million earlier this year.They were approved in early October.

The suit listed a range of written and verbal comments made by Crowley and Doyle while they were representing the Harris Ranch Taxpayers Association, including posting their letters in at least one Facebook group, speaking at Harris Ranch CID meetings, “proactively (reaching) out to members of the community” and making “patently false and defamatory statements” to the Idaho Statesman.

What’s in a name?

The complaint also asks the court to force the taxpayers’ association to stop using the name Harris Ranch in their organization’s name and other materials because the development group says it violates copyright law. The development group estimates it has spent over $1.2 million in marketing, advertising, and other promotion of the real estate development using the Harris Ranch name.

On October 8, the development group’s attorney sent the taxpayers’ association asking them to “immediately cease and desist from all communications that defame and disparage the Harris Family Limited Partnership, Lenir Ltd, and Barber Valley Development Inc.”

The plaintiffs are requesting at least $10,000 in damages from the taxpayers association to cover the “loss of reputation, business and income, and the time and money expended to correct public records and defend themselves from the public defamation before the HRCID Board.”

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at margaret@boisedev.com or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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