The legal back-and-forth over taxes in the Harris Ranch Community Infrastructure District in Boise will continue – but a lawsuit is off the table, for now.
LeNir Ltd., Harris Family Limited Partnership, and Barber Valley Development sued a group of homeowners opposed to a special taxing district in the area. In the developers’ initial complaint, it accused the Harris Ranch Community Infrastructure District Taxpayers Association of “grossly defaming” them and “intentionally interfering” with the ongoing buildout of the Southeast Boise subdivision. The suit also named Bill Doyle and Larry Crowley, Harris Ranch residents who spearheaded the taxpayers’ group.
But just before Christmas, the Harris Ranch developers changed course, notifying the court that “plaintiffs… provide notice of their voluntary dismal of all claims.”
LeNir principal Doug Fowler told BoiseDev by email that the dismissal was a “demonstration of good faith on our part.”
Fowler said his group could refile the lawsuit in the future and reiterated his belief in the lawsuit’s claims.
“Under the guise of the Harris Ranch CID Taxpayers Association, Mr. Doyle and Mr. Crowley had been making false and derogatory statements about the efforts of Barber Valley Development, Harris Ranch, and the CID for some time,” Fowler wrote. “Their actions are a costly, damaging distraction to the progress and completion of Harris Ranch.”
Fowler said the taxpayers’ group offered to settle the lawsuit.
“We were provided a settlement offer by the attorneys for the HRCIDTA, Mr. Doyle and Mr. Crowley the evening of December 16,” Fowler wrote. “I executed the settlement agreement (unchanged) on Saturday, December 18. I had our attorneys present it to their attorneys on Monday, December 20.”
While Doyle declined to comment on the record to BoiseDev on most elements of this story citing the legal actions, he said that the Harris Ranch developers didn’t accept an offer while it was “on the table” – only doing so after his group had pulled back the offer.
“As part of ongoing settlement negotiations, they never accepted any of our offers that were on the table in a timely basis,” he said. “In apparent response to our last settlement offer on the table, they dismissed their lawsuit.”
Another legal action pending
After the defamation and trademark suit was filed, the taxpayers’ group petitioned a court for judicial review – challenging decisions by an arm of the City of Boise that would pay out $7.1 million to the Harris Ranch developers, as well as allow for the issuance of $5.2 million in bonds. The action is still pending in Fourth District court.
The Harris Ranch CID was established by the City of Boise in Boise’s Barber Valley. The special taxing district charges an extra levy on a property owner’s tax bill – which goes to infrastructure improvements. It is administered by a board consisting of three members of Boise City Council in accordance with state law.
The legal action from the taxpayers’ group had been telegraphed in a series of letters to the City of Boise’s Harris Ranch CID board last summer and fall. City of Boise taxpayers will front the money for costs in the legal fight, up to $250,000 – with the expectation that funds from the infrastructure district will reimburse city taxpayers later.