OBP News

Fred L. Otis Honored for Excellence in Real Estate Law

Mr. Otis saw law as a way to serve people in his community

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GREELEY, CO, January 20, 2016, Fred L. Otis, Attorney of Otis Bedingfield & Peters, LLC, has been recognized by Martindale-Hubbell for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in real estate law and for holding an AV Preeminent Rating for more than 15 years.

“Fred has long been the go-to real estate lawyer in Northern Colorado,” said his partner Jennifer Lynn Peters. “It is nice to see him getting recognized on a national level for his long-standing commitment to excellence in real estate law.”

Mr. Otis is currently a managing member of the law firm of Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC, where he routinely represents clients in all types of real estate transactions. He also works closely with the firm’s 12 other attorneys and is a champion of numerous community projects throughout Greeley and Weld County.

As an attorney, Mr. Otis is particularly skilled in the field of real estate law, and he is regularly responsible for handling commercial real estate and business transactions. He is admitted to practice in Colorado and before the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

During his over 40 years of practice as a real estate lawyer in Greeley, Colorado, Mr. Otis also served as a municipal court judge for the City of Greeley from 1979-1985, and as a director of the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance from 1992-1997. He was a member of the Commission on Judicial Performance for the 19th Judicial District from 2000-2007, and he served on the Weld County Planning Commission from 1978-1983, and as chairman of the commission in 1982. Mr. Otis also taught real estate law at Aims Community College from 1977-1979. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Otis served as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1971-1976.

Looking back, Mr. Otis became involved in his profession because he enjoys serving people and wanted to serve more; he saw the law as a way to accomplish this, and he earned a JD from the University of Arkansas in 1972 to achieve his goal. He was recently inducted into Worldwide Registry and also maintains affiliation with the Weld County Bar Association and the Colorado Bar Association. As a testament to his sterling reputation, Mr. Otis maintains an AV-Preeminent Rating with Martindale-Hubbell, which he has held since 2001. Mr. Otis is looking forward to continuing to serve his clients throughout Northern Colorado.

For more information about Mr. Otis or Otis Bedingfield & Peters, LLC, visit http://nocoattorneys.com.

Business Attorney Corey W. Moore joins Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC

Corey Moore 120X150Corey W. Moore joins OBP as an associate attorney in our Loveland office. Born in Broomfield, Colorado, Corey most recently worked as a law clerk at Donahoe & Young, LLP in Valencia, California, where he handled bankruptcy, business, and real estate matters.

A former middle and high school history teacher, Corey holds a BA in History from the University of California, Berkeley and earned his J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law, where he focused on estate and tax planning. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, Corey gained valuable experience working in-house at a global fixed-income investment firm in London, a litigation and transactional firm in Denver, and with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Hardcore Gang Division. He also served as a fellow for Pepperdine’s Geoffrey H. Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law, where he counseled community members in developing and implementing business plans.

“We are happy to welcome Corey back to Colorado,” says managing member Tim Brynteson. “Our firm’s estate planning and business succession practice is growing and we are excited to have Corey add his knowledge and personality to the team.”

Corey is admitted to practice law in Colorado and is a member of the Colorado and American Bar Associations. His practice at OBP will focus on business and real estate transactions and estate planning.

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Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC provides real estate law and business law services throughout Northern Colorado. OBP has 13 attorneys spread across its two offices in Greeley and Loveland. For more information, contact Corey Moore at cmoore@nocoattorneys.com or Jennifer Lynn Peters at jpeters@nocoattorneys.com or 970-330-6700 or visit www.nocoattorneys.com.

Good for You: Windsor resident named to BizWest 40 Under Forty

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Look who made Windsor Now news! Congratulations Lee Morehead! Check out the article at the following link:

http://www.mywindsornow.com/news/18736485-113/good-for-you-windsor-resident-named-to-bizwest

Ruling on Endangered Species Act listing has wide implications

Kolanz-John[1]By: John Kolanz on September 18, 2015

Oil and gas and agricultural interests in Colorado and four nearby states celebrated a Texas federal judge’s ruling last week vacating Endangered Species Act protections for the lesser prairie chicken. Environmental interests were less enthused. While the ruling may ease the regulatory burden for certain entities in the region, its real significance could reach much further.

The judge found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service misapplied the factors that it must consider to determine whether a species qualifies for ESA protection (i.e., “listing”). The Act requires FWS to consider, among other things, the adequacy of existing regulatory protections.  If non-ESA mechanisms sufficiently protect a species, it should not qualify for listing.

The ESA is widely considered the strictest of all environmental laws. Once its protections attach to a species, the Act can severely limit activities that may harm the species or its habitat. In the case of the prairie chicken, this had implications for routine oil and gas and agricultural operations within the species’ range.

In an effort to avert a listing, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas teamed with private interests to create a comprehensive rangewide conservation plan for the prairie chicken.  When implemented, the plan would raise funds through enrollment and mitigation fees, and use these funds to develop conservation measures. Landowners would dedicate “offset land” consisting of prairie chicken habitat to be enhanced and preserved to counter unavoidable impacts to habitat elsewhere in the range. Landowners would receive payment and other economic incentives to provide offset land to the program.

Despite these efforts, FWS listed the bird as threatened in April 2014. At the time of the listing decision, the plan had not yet been implemented.  Therefore, the service determined that participation in the plan, as well as its implementation and funding, were too uncertain to guarantee protection to the bird. FWS further concluded that not listing the bird would discourage participation in the plan. The judge rejected this analysis an improper application of the service’s own policy on evaluating forthcoming conservation efforts during listing decisions.

The judge held that for FWS to give weight to such emerging plans in its listing analysis, it need only find that the plans are likely to be implemented and effective. In assessing the likelihood of implementation, FWS should consider prior industry and landowner participation in similar conservation efforts, and whether the plan creates a “good deal” for landowners in which they will want to participate. The judge held that the Service’s application of a stricter standard rendered the lesser prairie chicken’s listing invalid.

The direct effect of the ruling will take some time to sort out. For instance, it is somewhat unclear whether it vacates the lesser prairie chicken’s listing only in Texas, or in all five states where the bird is present.

However, its larger impact will go beyond the present case.  For starters, the ruling could influence the upcoming listing decision for the greater sage grouse, due this month, as well as the pending appeal of the recent decision to list the Gunnison sage grouse. Both have significant implications for Colorado.

Moreover, FWS is scheduled to make many more listing decisions for species across the country.  Comprehensive mitigation plans have become a popular mechanism to help avoid listings, but have had varying success. The ruling should reinforce the importance of state, local, and private entity cooperation in developing comprehensive plans to protect vulnerable species.  Properly crafted and implemented, these plans can provide numerous benefits.

They can create markets for property owners, who often bear a disproportionate burden under the Act, to get paid for the ecosystem benefits their lands provide. Moreover, these plans offer far more certainty to the regulated community in terms of the cost and timing of activities and projects that would otherwise require ESA review.

The plans also can help local and state governments minimize economic disruptions for their citizens and businesses. They can further help ensure that FWS allocates its limited resources to those species truly needing ESA protection. Finally, at-risk species can benefit from early conservation efforts that could be implemented more quickly than those produced through individual ESA review.

While opportunities presented by each species will vary, in many cases, the potential benefit of encouraging such plans is widespread and substantial. What some may consider a defeat for the lesser prairie chicken actually could be a win for all.

John Kolanz is a partner with Otis, Bedingfield & Peters LLC in Loveland. He can be reached at 970-663-7300 or via email at JKolanz@nocoattorneys.com.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC welcomes attorney Nathaniel Wallshein

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Nathaniel Wallshein joins the firm as a litigation associate. Before joining Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, Nate worked as a judicial fellow for the Honorable Norman D. Haglund. He most recently served as law clerk for the Honorable R. Michael Mullins of the Denver District Court.

“We are excited to bring a talented young lawyer like Nate to Northern Colorado and our firm,” says managing member Jennifer Lynn Peters. “Nate’s energy and passion for the law is infectious, and in the short time he has been with us he has already made a big contribution to our ongoing complex cases.”

Nate was born and raised in Northern Virginia. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut and he earned his J.D. from the University of Colorado Law School. During law school, he worked as a law clerk for the Office of the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of the Interior, and as a law clerk for the Office of Chief Counsel at the U.S. Department of Energy.  Nate also worked as a student attorney for the Natural Resources Law Clinic. There he represented a variety of organizations in litigation concerning Forest Service approval of two coal leases within the Thunder Basin National Grassland.

Nate is admitted to practice in Colorado and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. His practice at the firm will focus on complex commercial litigation, probate litigation and appeals.

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Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC provides real estate law and business law services throughout Northern Colorado. OBP has 12 attorneys spread across its two offices in Greeley and Loveland. For more information, contact Nathaniel Wallshein at nwallshein@nocoattorneys.com or Jennifer Lynn Peters at jpeters@nocoattorneys.com or 970-330-6700 or visit www.nocoattorneys.com.

New federal water rule taps reservoir of angst

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By: John Kolanz

It is largely about perspective. Some say the new federal rule defining the reach of the Clean Water Act will pave “the road to a regulatory and economic hell.” Others see it as a rollback of current protections that fails to close loopholes that have made the nation’s waters vulnerable to destruction by developers, corporate agriculture and general industry. Like most politically charged issues, however, the truth is somewhere in between.

Once effective later this summer, the new rule will provide the framework by which the federal government decides what waters receive CWA protection. This fundamental aspect of the Act remains confusing and contentious 40 years after its passage.

CWA regulation often brings to mind images of a sewage-treatment plant or large industrial facility discharging effluent into a river. While the Act certainly covers such activities, its application is much more extensive. For example, the Act also can apply to discharges of rainwater and snowmelt or placement of materials such as dirt, sand or gravel (“fill”) into protected waters.

This latter component of the Act, often called “dredge-and-fill” or “wetlands” permitting, is the component likely to be most affected by the new rule. This permitting program often covers routine activities related to oil and gas production and distribution, road building, agriculture, and all aspects of development, including construction of the family home. Therefore, changes in the Act’s coverage can impact many routine business activities, particularly in a region of dynamic growth, such as Northern Colorado.

The stakes can be high. Activities impacting protected waters require permits that can be difficult and expensive to obtain. Some projects may be denied permits. Even when issued, a permit creates binding obligations with potentially severe penalties for noncompliance.

The new rule is an attempt to clarify the reach of the Act because of uncertainty created largely by two U.S. Supreme Court opinions and subsequent government guidance on how to implement the Act in the wake of those opinions. The uncertainty led to many case-by-case determinations of coverage, creating permitting delays and inconsistent application of the Act.

To achieve clarity and certainty, the new rule draws bright lines to automatically protect certain waters. In some cases, these lines are based on distance to other protected waters, as opposed to scientific evaluation. However, despite the goal of certainty, the new rule also creates a potentially complicated test for extending the Act’s protections to a “catch-all” category that will include many waters not now typically captured.

On the other hand, the new rule specifically excludes some waters that the Act would otherwise cover. Perhaps most significantly in Colorado, the new rule excludes certain irrigation ditches, artificially irrigated areas that would revert to dry land in the absence of irrigation, and water-filled excavations created incidental to construction or mining. Moreover, the new rule leaves in place existing permitting exclusions, including rather extensive exclusions related to agriculture.

Some industry groups have condemned the new rule as an inappropriate (and illegal) extension of the Act, and have threatened to file suit to challenge the rule. Environmental groups who think the new rule does not go far enough may pursue similar challenges. Legislation to limit or prohibit implementation of the new rule also is a possibility.

Often missing from hyperbolic exchanges regarding the new rule is acknowledgment of the expansive reach of the existing rule. While the Act currently protects “more-obvious” waters such as the South Platte River, it also extends to “less-obvious” waters such as many irrigation ditches and even meadows that appear dry for much of the year.

Because of its different approach to identifying covered waters, the new rule will change the playing field for the regulated community. Just how much is difficult to know until the new rule is applied. Some waters currently covered by the Act no longer will be included, while some waters not currently covered will be. How any given project will be impacted will depend on its own unique circumstances.

John Kolanz is a partner with Otis, Bedingfield & Peters LLC in Loveland. He can be reached at 970-663-7300 or via email at JKolanz@nocoattorneys.com.

Greeley, Colorado – Attorney Timothy R. Odil named one of Colorado’s “Lawyers of the Year”

???????????Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC is proud to announce that attorney Timothy R. Odil was recently named one of Colorado’s “Lawyers of the Year” by Law Week Colorado

Odil was selected based on his excellent work on a variety of litigation matters and his demonstrated initiative and teamwork.  The prestigious honor, which Law Week announces annually in December, recognizes Colorado lawyers who have displayed legal excellence and made news throughout the year. Receiving this distinction as a “Lawyer of the Year” reflects the high level of respect Odil has earned among other leading attorneys in the community and in similar practice areas for his abilities, his professionalism, and his integrity. Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as a “Lawyer of the Year,” making this award particularly significant.

Odil is a key member of the firm’s litigation team. His practice focuses on disputes among private parties as well as disputes with local, state, or federal government agencies. He handles complex commercial litigation and appeals, government and commercial contract negotiation and disputes, regulatory compliance, licensing, and rulemaking issues, as well as employment law matters.  As OBP Partner Jennifer Lynn Peters noted, “In addition to handling a large complex litigation caseload, Tim stepped into the firm in the midst of big change, and in a year helped us build our litigation department from two to six lawyers, and the firm from two to 11 lawyers. His mentorship of the younger associates on our litigation team and his pure legal ability were unmatched this year.”

High pressure litigation isn’t anything new to Odil who practiced with a large national law firm for 8 years before he returned to Greeley to join the newly formed Otis, Bedingfield & Peters. Within his first year of starting at OBP Odil had upward of 10 active trial matters, including the notable High Plains Library District trustee removal litigation, which received significant news coverage earlier this year.  Odil helped the High Plains Library District secure an injunction that blocked the removal of the District’s entire Board of Trustees. This case is particularly high-profile because it pitted members of a handful of Northern Colorado communities against one another in an effort to control the District’s policies, organizational infrastructure, and budgeting processes.

The firm congratulates Odil on this well-deserved honor.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC advocates for individuals, businesses, and families in the Northern Colorado region. Our clients are landowners, business owners, business professionals, businesses of all sizes, and individual families in need of guidance or representation in court proceedings involving commercial real estate or business issues. OBP routinely handles matters in the areas of real estate law, business law, environmental law, oil and gas law, estate planning, commercial litigation, probate and trust litigation, appeals, and tax law. For more information, please visit www.nocoattorneys.com or contact Managing Partner Jennifer Lynn Peters at 970.330.6700.

Tim Odil Named a Lawyer of the Year

On December 15, 2014, Law Week Colorado named OBP commercial litigation attorney Tim Odil one of its Lawyers of the Year.  The honor is in recognition of Tim’s superior work this past year in both the trial court and the appellate court.  Congratulations Tim!

Read more at Law Week Online or check out our Facebook or Google+ page.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC Welcomes Attorney Brandy Natalzia

Attorney Brandy Natalzia

Attorney Brandy E. Natalzia recently relocated to Northern Colorado from Florida.  She is a former judicial intern for the Honorable Jay Cohen of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Marcia Morales Howard of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.  Brandy graduated, cum laude, from the University of North Florida, where she obtained her bachelor of arts degree in communication.  She obtained her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law, where she served as the managing editor of the Florida Coastal Law Review.

Prior to joining Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, Brandy was an associate attorney with a small law firm in Jacksonville, Florida, and worked as a legal project manager.  Prior to law school, she worked for a national homebuilder for whom she prepared and implemented a successful training program for new home sales and dealt exclusively with contract preparation and negotiation.

“We are excited to bring an attorney like Brandy on board,” says Timothy P. Brynteson, managing member of OBP’s Loveland office.  “Her background and experience will enhance our ability to serve the Northern Colorado business community.”

Brandy’s practice at the firm will focus on real estate and business transactions, including the preparation, review and negotiation of contracts and entity formation.

Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC welcomes attorney Christian J. Schulte

ChristianSchulteAttorney Christian J. Schulte is a long-time resident of Greeley, and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia where he was awarded the National Merit Scholarship. Christian received his law degree at the University of Colorado School of Law in 1997, where he was an Associate Editor of the University of Colorado Law Review.

Prior to joining Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, Christian was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in the Weld County District Attorney’s office. Over his nearly twenty years in criminal prosecution, he handled hundreds of criminal cases as the lead trial attorney, and he trained numerous other attorneys in criminal law and the art of trial practice. Most recently, he was assigned to prosecute white collar and other serious economic crimes, including mortgage fraud, embezzlement, securities fraud and financial crimes against at-risk adults, particularly the victimization of the elderly by those in a position of trust.

Christian has been a board member and board chair of A Kid’s Place, and a board member of Island Grove Treatment Center and North Range Behavioral Health. He has taught law enforcement, high school and college students, and the general public about constitutional law, attorney ethics, elder abuse, mortgage fraud and other topics.

“We are thrilled to have an attorney of Christian’s caliber join our litigation team. Christian’s trial experience and his previous focus on business issues and the financial exploitation of the elderly will serve our clients well,” says Otis, Bedingfield & Peters, LLC managing member Jennifer Lynn Peters.

Mr. Schulte’s practice at the firm will focus on complex commercial litigation, probate litigation and appeals.