Stating their case via the Internet
CARBONDALE – Bill Vezzoso’s family recently started an Internet campaign they say will inform Garfield County citizens of the truth.The family is in a legal battle with the county over property rights.Bill Vezzoso Jr., Bill and Kimberly Vezzoso’s son, wrote in an e-mail, “I created the http://www.stopgarcoinjustice.com website because of the injustice being put on my parents by Don Deford and Garfield County Commissioners Trési Houpt and Larry McCown. This is a grassroots citizen-based petition launch with the main goal to hold our local commissioners and government officials responsible for their actions.”His father, Bill Vezzoso, said his Independent Trucking and Excavating business has been damaged by the county’s decision and the publicity surrounding it. He runs the business from his Willow Lane home east of Carbondale.
Advertisements for the website appeared in the Post Independent with the phrase, “Make a difference. Stand up for what’s right,” and “Garfield County and BOCC Commissioners Trési Houpt and Larry McCown have gone too far.”McCown, who’s not running for re-election this November, said he couldn’t comment due to the pending litigation. Houpt and Deford couldn’t be reached.The website presents the Vezzosos’ side of the case, a list of people who’ve signed a petition to the commissioners plus some of their comments, a link to e-mail commissioners and printable business cards for the website. It does not include any evidence from the county’s side of the case.Mike Kennedy, a neighbor, has said everyone in the neighborhood thinks the Vezzosos’ lawsuit is a joke. He said the website is ridiculous.
“The whole thing was pretty one-sided,” said Mike Kennedy. “It doesn’t even show you what the county has against him and the reasons for all this.”In March 2007, Garfield County Commissioners ordered the Vezzosos to stop an excavation operation on his property. Neighbors told the county Vezzoso was processing dirt and rock on his property, with excessive fumes, noise and heavy machinery that got worse over the past few years. The Vezzosos appealed the decision, but the county Board of Adjustment denied the appeal after a May 2007 evidentiary hearing. Bill and Kimberly Vezzoso filed the lawsuit in June challenging the BOA’s decision.Commissioner John Martin voted against the other commissioners, saying the Vezzosos have a vested property right that should be maintained.Bill Vezzoso was issued a citation in 1991 for zoning violations, which the Vezzosos maintain was dismissed after an agreement was reached allowing them and others to have 10 pieces of heavy equipment per 5 acres of land. Others dispute that claim and say no record of any agreement exists.The Vezzosos said what neighbors called a gravel pit was actually a large pile of dirt used to reclaim a pasture for agricultural purposes. But neighbors said the Vezzosos brought animals in only to make it look like the property was being used for agricultural purposes.”They’re trying to tell me I’m not ag. They’re trying to tell me I’m not nothing,” Bill Vezzoso said. “I’ve been a cowboy here since 1986, 1987. This is what I’ve done since the day I’ve owned the property. Up until the day that I don’t own it I’m still going to do it if I want to. That’s what ag rights are about. They can’t be taken away. … The county has no evidence.”He said he’s been farming on the property since 1987. The name of the company Vezzoso mentioned, the Vezzoso Farm and Ranch, was formed after the lawsuit was filed on Aug. 4, 2007, according to the Secretary of State.
Assistant county attorney Michael Howard said testimony from several people rebutted testimony that the Vezzosos emphasize on the website and the true facts are available in court records.”Just because you don’t like the decision doesn’t mean that your rights have been violated,” Howard said.Vezzoso said the website will be used in the future to expose the truth behind other goings-on in the county.The Vezzosos’ lawsuit went to federal court and U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch dismissed the claim that the Vezzosos’ federal due process rights were violated and sent the case back to 9th Judicial District Court in October. Chief District Judge James Boyd is expected to rule on the BOA’s decision.Contact Pete Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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