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Law Offices of Ronald W. Rutz
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November 8, 2001: Forming your own Town

Q: I want to form my own town so I can control my property and sales taxes and zoning. What do you think about this?

A: Many people like you have come up with this idea, some with more success than others.

According to Colorado folklore, there is a narrow, mountainous rectangle running north-to-south that never was officially part of the United States accessions (sometimes described as being between Texas and the Louisiana Purchase and other times between Texas and the Mexican Cession). If this is true, and previous attempts to adjust the discrepancy were unsuccessful, you could start your own state or even country. But let's face it, that is not very practical.

Or, you could start your own county. We recently saw the birth of a new Colorado County (Broomfield). But that took years, court contests, and several elections to complete. So, again not very likely as a course of action to fulfill your dreams.

Thus forming your own town is your best shot. About 15 years ago several different landowners approached me with that same idea. But only two plans were ever pursued and neither ever incorporated.

So where do we start? The Colorado statutes will be our how-to-do-it book, giving us the recipe on cooking up a new town.

Since Larimer County has a population greater than 25,000, at least 150 residents/landowners must sign a petition that is filed with the District Court, along with the consent of every owner of 40 acres or more within the proposed town. The area must be deemed "urban" in nature and can not be closer than a mile from any existing incorporated entity. Finally each square mile must average 50 registered electors.

So superficially you do not even come close. And even if you manage to put together 149 other landowners/electors and meet all of the other requirements, do not expect to rule the roost with just one vote.

But when I looked into this matter almost two decades ago, I felt there might be several other routs. Usually just before and just after World War One, a number of local farmers platted out their land to have the ground ready for development (more so in Weld County than Larimer County). Recently attempts by various governmental entities were made in several counties to vacate these old town plats. If one exists within your area (look through your abstracts), then use this as a possible core to build upon, challenging whatever might have been done to invalidate the plat.

Another choice would be to move in and "take over" one of the smaller existing towns that dot northern Colorado. This would not be a solution for your immediate ground unless you were close enough to be annexed, but for your long-term objectives relocation might be considered.

As for taxes, also remember that other governmental units and taxable entities impose various sales and property taxes. So even if you could control the taxes within your own entity, you can not eliminate them completely.

I wish I could be more positive and I wish I did have an answer. But both of us need to go back to the old drawing board.

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