Federal court may send Carbondale couples suit back to 9th Judicial District
CARBONDALE, Colo. The lawsuit Bill and Kimberly Vezzoso filed against local government has gone to federal court, but might soon come back to the 9th Judicial District.County attorney Don Deford said a resolution might be reached as early as before the end of the year. The Vezzosos’ lawsuit includes civil rights claims that Garfield County violated their due process rights.”His claim was that we were trying to deprive him of a property right without due process,” Deford said. “Because that’s a federal claim with federal issues, we wanted a federal court to take a look at it.”Deford said U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch “indicated that he had serious doubts about the ability of Vezzoso to maintain a civil rights claim against the county.” Matsch is expected to rule soon on whether or not he has jurisdiction in the case, Deford added, and there is hope the Vezzosos might drop the civil rights claims.”Our attorney in Denver is trying to convince Mr. Vezzoso that this is really a waste of time, that they don’t have a civil rights claim against us,” he said.The Vezzosos were ordered by Garfield County commissioners in March to stop what was called an illegal excavation operation. Neighbors had complained about what they said was an illegal gravel pit, fumes and heavy machinery. County staff investigated and found numerous zoning violations. The Vezzosos appealed the decision, but the county Board of Adjustment (BOA) denied the appeal after a May 30 evidentiary hearing.The lawsuit was filed in June against the board of commissioners, the board of adjustment and county planning department director Fred Jarman. The Vezzosos maintain they have a vested property right from a previous agreement. Bill Vezzoso was issued a citation in 1991 for zoning violations, which the Vezzosos say was dismissed after an agreement was reached allowing them and others to have 10 pieces of heavy equipment per 5 acres of land. Commissioner John Martin cast the lone vote against shutting down the operation. He said there was no record about the court making a finding one way or the other in 1991.”At that point it’s a matter of opinion if it happens to be a zoning violation,” he said. “Because the court hadn’t ruled one way or the other, I wasn’t going to pursue it 10 years down the road.”Bill Vezzoso Jr., Vezzoso’s son, said the county seemed to have decided it would go after them with any zoning violations they could possibly find because neighbors had complained. He found it ironic that some of the neighbors complained after buying property and moving in when the same operations have been going on there for almost 20 years, Vezzoso said.”It’s unfortunate that we’re going through this route, and it’s going to cost the taxpayers of Garfield County,” he said. “It just seems like a big waste of money and time because a couple of neighbors want to change something that was there before they moved there.”He described the operation as having three dump trucks there that are used elsewhere for an operation called Independent Trucking, not on the property. What neighbors called a gravel pit was actually a large pile of dirt that was used to fill in a pasture so that horses hooves wouldn’t be compromised by water that would collect there, he said.Vezzoso said the BOA ignored the facts to avoid delivering a “slap in the face” to commissioners who voted to limit Vezzoso’s activities on his property near Carbondale.”Their position on it because they weren’t there is that they weren’t sure if (the 1991 agreement) happened,” he said. “We’ve provided evidence, court transcripts. We had someone testify in front of commissioners and the board of adjustment about the agreement. The county never rebutted that.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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