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Family packs bags after losing battle with developers

by Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

Frustrated. Bitter. Put out.

Those are the words Winter Park resident Janie Glos used to describe the way she feels as she sits at a coffee shop in Fraser, leaned back in her chair with her head tilted to one side. It’s the day after The Ridge timeshare development was approved by county commissioners. It’s been determined that vacation units will be erected next to her back yard.

But it’s not just the development itself that has worn her down.

It’s the nine months she and her neighbors spent building a case against it.

She and Becky Rand estimate they have each accumulated 1,000 hours of work on this project ” filling boxes with files of information.

“Before this, we didn’t even know what a preliminary or a final plat was,” said Becky Rand, who became the quarterback for a team of citizens who marched to county hall, carrying protest letters and formulating arguments in oppostion to the developer Silverleaf of Texas. After all that, they are left feeling the county has catered to the developer, Rand said.

When she first found out about the project, Rand became known among neighbors as “the research rat” ” Googling like mad and digging up plat notes and county documents. Her history degree and a past life as a travel agent and book editor all lent themselves to her tenacious probe of every move the county or Silverleaf made.

Because she couldn’t attend all the meetings on the matter, she listened to recorded tapes, which she purchased from the county.

Along the way, she said, she took on the role of keeping the county in check.

Upon reviewing a recording from a county planning commission meeting on Aug. 8, when the motion to approve the preliminary plat for The Ridge passed by a 3-2 vote, Rand found that after the public left the room, the planning commission continued to talk for another 19 minutes on various issues, some relating to The Ridge project.

In the recording, Chairman Stewart Thomson’s comments contradict what he said when the public was present, Rand said. Thomson voted in favor of the developer, then later admitted that he saw the Ridge as a “commercial operation within a residential development.”

After listening to the recording, Rand and Glos wondered if planning commission member Ed Moyer was even qualified to be a voting member since it showed on the county’s Web site that his term had expired. At the preliminary plat review on board of commissioners level, Glos brought up this point. County staff said Moyer had been, in fact, reinstated in Commissioner Bumgarner’s district. When Glos asked for a recorded document that proved this, none was available at the time, so county staff produced an unsigned document.

Glos pressed the issue, asking for a more official document.

“Then I got ridiculed for asking for it,” she said.

Her persistence about this document angered County Attorney Jack DiCola, Glos said.

In a Sept. 4 BOCC tape, when the public had already left, dialogue continues among commissioners, the county attorney and county planner about county residential zoning and nightly rentals and how those should be enforced.

On the tape, DiCola commends Silverleaf for its mitigation in an effort to be good neighbors. He continues to talk about his visit to Silverleaf residents when he told them that they need to focus on concessions because “it (the timeshare development) is going to happen.”

A few lines later, Commissioner Bumgarner asks, “And what’s this issue with Moyer?”

The county planner explains, “They were hoping that they could overturn the planning commissioner vote.”

At that point, DiCola responds, “That lady makes my a** itch,” referring to Glos, then laughter.

Commissioner James Newberry asks, “Is that on record?” at which point there is more laughter and the tape stops.

Glos said she was shocked by the comment when she heard it.

“I was so emotional about it, my husband packed me up in the car and we left for the weekend,” she said. “I basically was being made fun of.”

Glos wrote a letter to commissioners, seeking an apology.

Asked if he’d like to comment on the apology and the incident, DiCola declined Tuesday.

During Tuesday’s public meeting, Chairman Newberry made a public apology and took responsibility for the “lack of professionalism” that day. “I take full responsibility for those things that have been said and that should not have been said. It was innappropriate,” he said.

Glos and her husband had already put their home up for sale in light of a timeshare community moving in next door. They had been looking to buy another lot somewhere within the county. But now, she said, because of the way she was treated overall, they are moving out of Grand County.

“I feel like I’ve been laughed at,” she said. “Oh yeah. What I’m I talking about, I was laughed at.”

-Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.


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