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DENVER-Robert Moody, executive director of the Colorado Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, set off a maelstrom of controversy when he publicly criticized Mayor John Hickenlooper. Hickenlooper was sworn in as mayor on Monday.

In a recent front page article in the Denver Post, Moody said that Hickenlooper should not have agreed to a fundraiser for an environmental group, the Colorado Environmental Coalition. The group had supported a constitutional amendement for growth limits, that was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2000.

The day after the Post article, Moody told the Rocky Mountain News that it “wasn’t the end of the world” that Hickenlooper would speak to the group, but he still wished he wasn’t doing it. NAIOP had given Hickenlooper a $3,000 check, the maximum available, for his campaign.

Hickenlooper responded by saying that first, he had agreed to speak to the environmental group last November, before he had even decided to run for election. But more importantly, he added, he plans to be an “inclusive” mayor who hopes to bring together environmentalists and developers, Republicans and Democrats. Hickenlooper also notes he believes it is possible to be for the environment and pro-growth and he sees no contradiction between those positions.

Response in the real estate community was swift, apparently with many in the community supporting Hickenlooper. “I like Bob and he does a good job of lobbying for us, but I just wish he had kept his big mouth shut,” one prominent commercial real estate broker tells GlobeSt.com.

“You can’t possibly win a debate like that,” he adds. “It’s the big bad developer against the environmentalist. Everyone I talk to in the real estate community is mad at Bob for what he said.”

Indeed, the broker says that Hickenlooper not only is within his rights to raise money for an environmental group, it’s the right thing to do. “Look, I’m a married man with children,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “Does that mean I should tell Hickenlooper not to talk with single guys who date a lot of girls or not to talk to gay guys? That’s not my place. The mayor needs to reach out to everyone. He wants to be the inclusive mayor and that’s great. I think Hickenlooper is going to be very good for our business. And we all knew he was an environmentalist, in addition to supporting smart growth and creating jobs.”

A well-known developer, who was unaware of the controversy until informed by GlobeSt.com, says he is astounded that Moody was criticize Hickenlooper for raising money for an environmental group. Even though the developer disagreed with Amendment 24–which would have limited growth–because he feels like changing the state’s constitution is too extreme, he says he agrees with the group’s goal to preserve the environment.

“I think what [some] developers did during the go-go ’90s was terrible,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “Too much sprawl occurred. The Denver Water Board never should have allowed the water taps for all of these projects where the infrastructure doesn’t already exist. What we need is responsible, smart growth. And I think that is what Hickenlooper stands for.”

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