Developers of treatment center sue Cordillera residents for ‘discriminating against addictions’
October 20, 2017
DENVER — Cordillera residents are facing a federal Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit for "discriminating against the addicted," according to a lawsuit filed Friday, Oct. 20.
The lawsuit, filed by the treatment center's developers, CSNM Investments LLC, alleges that neither Cordillera's metro district nor its property owners' association is allowed to spend money that way.
The lawsuit says that, so far, Cordillera's metro district has spent more than $361,124.
It also says that Cordillera's property owners' association has spent more than $286,175.
That's $647,299 total, money the lawsuit says the metro district and property owners' association were not authorized to spend.
The lawsuit says CSMN Investments has had to "divert resources, energy and funds … from its efforts to assist persons with disabilities." That's discrimination and violates both the federal Americans With Disabilities Act and the federal Fair Housing Act, the lawsuit says.
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Noah Nordheimer and his partners, CSMN Investments, are asking a federal district court judge to order Cordillera to stop its appeals and to reimburse the money they've spent defending against the litigation.
"No one wakes up hoping to file a lawsuit, but when you see discrimination like this — when you see neighbors doing anything they can to stop people in need from coming to their neighborhood — the choice is clear," Nordheimer said. "Our laws prohibit discrimination against people seeking treatment for addiction, just as it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or religion."
Cordillera's attorney returned fire.
"This lawsuit is totally frivolous. Nordheimer knows that," said Thomas Wilner, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Cordillera homeowner and head of the Cordillera property owners' association's legal committee. "It is just another example of him trying to use his war chest of developer money to bully a community into giving up its rights."
Calling out Cordillera
The lawsuit also calls out several Cordillera residents and their emails against the treatment center, including:
• "This is a neighborhood, not a health care farm."
• "Catastrophe for the community. Heroin addicts moving in with other unbalanced individuals and the predators that surround such facilities. This should be stopped at all costs. … I would not be comfortable allowing our grandchildren outside unguarded."
"The actions taken here were some of the most egregious violations of federal laws we have seen in the entire country," Nordheimer said. "The stigma that communities place on addiction needs to stop. Holding people accountable for their actions is the only way we can help others access treatment and improve the lives of people suffering from this chronic disease."
Nordheimer and his partners say they want to help the addicted and say they're spending $136 million to do it.
Friday's federal lawsuit is the latest salvo in the legal battle surrounding Nordheimer's Concerted Care Group to convert The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera into a high-end health, wellness and addiction-treatment center.
On Friday, Sept. 15, 5th Judicial District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman shot down what could be Cordillera property owners' last shot to block it. Dunkelman's 30-page rulings aid the Eagle County Commissioners were correct when they voted unanimously to allow Nordheimer to move forward.
All of this started when Bob Naracci, Eagle County's former community development director, ruled that the treatment center was a "use by right" under Cordillera's development guidelines. The Eagle County commissioners confirmed that Naracci was correct in his interpretation.
Cordillera's property owners association sued the commissioners, arguing that the 2009 changes in Cordillera's planned unit development regulations preclude medical facilities such as an in-patient addiction treatment center.
In addition to its lawsuit in district court, Cordillera also sued Nordheimer and Behringer Harvard for $100 million in federal court in Denver, seeking to stop the sale. Federal District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson refused to halt the sale, which closed in August.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.