Gypsum resolves ball field lights lawsuit | VailDaily.com
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Gypsum resolves ball field lights lawsuit

Kathy Heicher
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Expect to see some ball games under the lights at the Gypsum Recreation Complex this summer.

The town of Gypsum has reached an out-of-court settlement with the adjacent property owners who sued last summer when the town put up ballpark lights on a newly developed ball field on Cooley Mesa. Town Manager Jeff Shroll said that the town has finalized a deal to purchase the home owned by Tom and Chris LaVenture. The LaVentures, who own a business in Eagle-Vail, plan to relocate somewhere in unincorporated Eagle County.

“At this time, we don’t know what we will do with the property,” said Shroll, adding that the town has the option of selling the 3,000 square foot home, or hanging onto it. The town paid $571,000 to acquire the home and the large lot it is located on. Shroll estimated another $50,000 was spent in lawyer fees.

The LaVentures purchased their home before the town acquired the adjacent 25 acre property. The town began developing those 25 acres, zoned for light industrial use, as a sports field complex.

The couple filed a lawsuit last spring after construction crews poured concrete for the light pole foundations on the field, installed wiring, and erected six, 70-foot tall light poles around the field immediately adjacent to their backyard. The LaVentures’ property is just off the third base line of the ball field.

The lawsuit challenged whether the Gypsum municipal code allowed baseball parks in light industrial districts; and charged that the town did not go through a formal public review procedure when pursuing development of the field. A judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the town from using the lights.

The town spent about $50,000 developing the field and was preparing to spend another $75,000 to $100,000 on the lights.

Tom LaVenture said this week that he and his wife’s first choice would have been to stay on their carefully landscaped property. “It is impossible for us to live next to a ball field,” said LaVenture.

The couple, in their lawsuit, voiced concerns about the intrusion of the lights on the privacy of their property, and also of the nuisances of noise, people and errant balls.

LaVenture said the terms of the out-of-court settlement involve a resolution in which both sides agree to reconcile their differences. “What else can you do?” he asked, adding that the couple has not yet decided where they will relocate.

Shroll said the town will wait until the LaVentures move out before deciding the future of the newly acquired property. He added that the town will probably spend a month or two testing the lights and getting the field ready for play.

Parties on both sides of the lawsuit indicated they were pleased to see the 18-month struggle come to an end. “I’m just glad everything is done, and both parties reached an agreement,” said Gypsum Mayor Steve Carver.


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