Land previously proposed as camp for autistic children under scrutiny again in Garfield County

Opponents of the Ascendigo property development hold signs in protest during a Garfield County Commissioners site visit in Missouri Heights in this May 2021 file photo.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A minor residential subdivision request for a portion of the site rejected by Garfield County commissioners in 2021 for a year-round camp serving autistic children is facing neighbor objections.

Garfield County Community Development Director Sheryl Bower last month approved a plan to split a 41.3-acre section of the larger parcel into two lots, one 36.2 acres and the other 5.1 acres.

The lots could accommodate up to four residential units, including two primary residences and two accessory or secondary units, according to the Fussner Minor Subdivision proposal put forth by the current property owners, going by the name SkyFooze1, LLC.

County land-use codes allow for certain types of smaller subdivisions and small development applications to be reviewed and approved administratively, rather than going before the county Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

However, a call-up provision allows for that decision to be appealed to the BOCC, either by the applicant or an affected adjacent landowner.

In this case, neighboring resident Tommy Barras, through his attorney Richard Neiley, requested a hearing before the county commissioners to weigh concerns that domestic water availability may not be adequate to serve the new homes.

That was also one of the many arguments neighbors of the larger 126 acres of pastureland that’s zone rural-residential had leveled against the Ascendigo Autism Services camp facility in early 2021. Other concerns included the potential for wildfires, increased traffic and light pollution.

The Ascendigo plan was ultimately rejected on a 2-1 vote by the county commissioners, with Commissioner Tom Jankovsky supporting the plan on the grounds of property rights and the facility’s prospects for boosting the area economy.

Jankovsky was again the lone commissioner out Monday when the BOCC voted 2-1 to hear the Fussner subdivision plan at a Feb. 21 hearing.

“This is a plan that has adequate water, good access and wastewater treatment in an area that’s more or less a sage brush ecosystem,” Jankovsky said at the Monday meeting. 

“I feel strongly that we should uphold the director’s decision,” he said, alluding to “NIMBYism” that he also blamed for killing the Ascendigo proposal.

However, Commissioners Mike Samson and John Martin said they wanted to give the neighbors their “day in court” and to weigh the concerns before making a final decision.

“I’m more inclined to give someone their say on this, and have the opportunity to make their case,” Samson said.

Land-use consultant Matt Farrar said at the Monday BOCC meeting that he believes the neighbor’s concerns have been adequately addressed, and asked that Bower’s decision be allowed to stand.

Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at or at 970-384-9160.

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