Citizens fail to persuade Grand Lake officials to take action against ACORN |

Citizens fail to persuade Grand Lake officials to take action against ACORN

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

A small group of citizens could not persuade Grand Lake town officials to forbid the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now – ACORN – from any activity within the town limits.

At Grand Lake’s mid-September board meeting, citizens produced a resolution for the town board of trustees to consider adopting, asking them to “oppose any activity in our community by representatives of ACORN or any of its affiliates.”

Trustees said they entered into an executive session Sept. 14 to confer with the town’s attorney Scott Krob about a possible resolution pertaining to ACORN. During the session, town officials chose to dismiss considering a law.

At Monday’s town board meeting, Alan Olson reiterated citizens’ concerns about ACORN, in spite of the town’s election to do nothing.

“We feel the town board has the responsibility to be a voice for the community,” Olson said. “The government of Grand Lake should have gone on record that it would not condone the activities of this corrupt organization.”

The ACORN organization has been in the eye of national news for individual canvassers accused of voter registration fraud, to two workers caught on tape discussing tax evasion and dispensing advice on an illegal prostitution ring.

Congress voted to halt government funding to the organization, and the U.S. Census Bureau severed ties with the organization.

ACORN officials have renounced the actions of the individual workers in several news reports and have reported that the organization is retraining staff and reiterating its high expectations.

Grand Lake officials responded to Olson, saying in light of the town’s crack-down on voter registration in the 2008 election, Grand Lake has shown that it is serious about the subject.

But due to reports that individuals with ACORN were involved with voter-registration malfeasance – not the organization accused as a whole – the town board said it opted to refrain from taking a stand. This decision was further supported by Congress’s and the Census Bureau’s recent actions, according to Town Manager Shane Hale.

“It seemed the biggest push for the town to consider it went away,” he said.

Trash bins

The town of Grand Lake is looking into amending its design review trash standards adopted in May. Standards currently outline that commercial, multi-family and community trash bins must be screened from public view if not located in an alley. This law expired in May 2009.

But with more than 100 different trash facilities in different ranges of compliance in town – with about 75 percent possibly non-compliant, according to Town Planner Abby Jo Wittman – and with the cost of building a fence around bins more of a challenge in trying economic times, town officials are reconsidering their stance.

The town may still consider a rule that all bins should be in alleyways, but the screening of bins remains questionable. At Monday’s town board meeting, town officials opted to bring back the topic for discussion on Oct. 12 – following a third planning-commission review on this issue.


Grand Lake amended its zoning regulations on Monday, adding changes to parking requirements and adopting parking requirements for specific types of businesses.

For restaurants, lounges, bars and coffee shops, town officials opted to not have parking requirements that apply to occupancy of such businesses. For those businesses, parking remains the same at one space per 250 square feet of floor area.

General retail is at one space per 350 total square feet of floor area. As part of the revised code, the board adopted several other changes, including a new section on Special Events permits, which entails a new detailed application form for each special event on town land and a $100 deposit for cleanup.

Other additions include provisions for accessory dwelling units and adult-oriented businesses in town.

Affordable Housing

Grand Lake is part of a $59 million Colorado Division of Housing application submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Grand County Housing Authority Director Jim Sheehan informed town trustees on Monday that the town is in the running for $1 million out of $2.1 billion in stimulus available nationwide for attainable housing initiatives.

Grand Lake officials aim to use the money to create deed-restricted housing in the Grand Lake area, perhaps by purchasing foreclosed units. Sheehan told town board members he expects to hear in December whether Grand Lake is a recipient.