Westbank Alliance forms to hold county accountable
I would like to thank everyone who has phoned in and written letters of support and opinions on the Prehm Ranch/Westbank road. Many people have voiced their outrage with Commissioners Walt Stowe and Larry McCown for reneging on their rules and regulations and allowing a developer to force them into an inequitable ruling. Many of these people are professionals in land use and planning, the legal profession, and within city and county government. They have strong concerns for the precedent this ruling sets, particularly for the citizens of Garfield County.
The county needs to be held accountable for their actions. When Marlin constructed their illegal road against the county’s ruling, county attorney Don DeFord could have shut the road down. He could have introduced Westbank’s covenants as evidence in his case against Marlin. He didn’t. Instead, he let the road stand, and he forced Westbank to file an entirely separate case based on our covenants. This cost the Homeowners Association approximately $50,000, and when the funds were depleted, the residents were forced into a settlement agreement.
An investigation into the County’s arbitrary enforcement of rules and regulations would be in order. It is certainly impossible to have faith in our county government when this gross an infraction is not only sanctioned, but overtly aided by the county attorney and commissioners who seem to be unaccountable to anyone without deep pockets.
This whole affair brings up unanswered questions about the title company that granted clear title to Westbank in the 1970s when it was developed. Immediately prior to the settlement conference we find out that the county owns deeded property through Westbank which was used by the lawyers to force the homeowners into a settlement agreement. The county wants to quickly vacate that deeded access now. Or the deeded access could be used as a hiking trail instead of a road.
Perhaps the county should recognize the responsibility of the title company in this case and protect the residents of Westbank. Yet none of these issues have been discussed with the Westbank homeowners. We have been urged to keep quiet. We cannot get straight answers to these and many other questions.
At the April homeowners meeting a board member announced that anyone who questions what was done should be ashamed of themselves! We have been set up to be blamed for costing the homeowners money if we “make trouble” about it. Why not just answer the questions?
The Westbank Alliance is being formed to create an entity which helps hold county government officials accountable to their taxpaying citizens. Living in the Roaring Fork Valley presents many challenges to property owners, and there is a gaping lack of accountability in this area. Residents from within and outside of Westbank are joining, and we hope for even more involvement. We need everybody’s help. Please call 945-7443 for information. Thank you to everyone who has already called and/or written letters.
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