Larimer County Commissioners will tackle the bare shelves and lack of inventory at the Bella’s Market in Wellington during an executive session at their next administrative matters meeting on June 24. Commissioner Lew Gaiter III brought up the subject at the June 17 county commissioner’s meeting.
Bella’s currently has a limited stock of everything except milk, and earlier this week there were no packaged meats. The deli case held just one ham.
“Citizens have expressed concerns about (lack of) product on the shelves. The Wellington mayor is looking into it as well,” said Gaiter. “We helped them with economic incentives and there’s some frustration as to how that’s working out now.”
The county settled a threatened lawsuit in 2012 with ZWZ Inc. relating to the building that houses Bella’s. At the time, the building’s owners claimed they were entitled to enterprise zone tax credits, which are part of the county’s economic development incentive package. Commissioners settled the matter by granting a two-year tax exemption to Bella’s that totaled $49,000 per year. Commissioner Steve Johnson was the dissenting voice, saying the threatened lawsuit was “bogus.”
“I agree that the settlement was a bad idea to start with,” Johnson said recently. “The current operator isn’t providing the service that he agreed to.”
Commissioner Tom Donnelly said that the 2012 agreement with Bella’s “was a tax incentive that was granted in terms of a legal settlement. This board has every ability to rescind that tax incentive agreement.”
The Wellington Town Board and the Larimer County Commissioners approved a tax waiver in June of 2012 as an incentive for the store to re-open. In the agreement, Bella’s promised to operate the grocery for five years in exchange for waiving 2013 and 2014 property taxes, which at the time amounted to about $49,000 per year. Wellington’s share of that is $13,000 with the county and the school district accounting for the other $36,000.
The agreement doesn’t state the terms of operation or specify the quality and level of inventory that the store should stock.
Panhandle Co-op owned the retail operation and leased the building until June 20, 2012. They operated Main Street Market five years but did not make a profit in any of those years, the co-op said.
There are eight Bella’s markets in Colorado towns, including Akron, Haxton, Limon and Stratton. State records indicate that the Bella’s Market trade name is owned by VM Odell’s LLC, a Delaware company.
North Forty News contacted Sam Mancini, Bella’s president and CEO, on June 18 who said he’d provide a comment about the Wellington store shortly. North Forty hasn’t yet received a return phone call.