Homeowner sues to stop Cordillera treatment center | VailDaily.com

Homeowner sues to stop Cordillera treatment center

A Baltimore firm's plan to renovate the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera and convert it into a health/wellness/addiction treatment center has many Cordillera property owners upset. Michele Larson has filed a lawsuit trying to stop it.
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The story so far:

Noah Nordheimer’s Baltimore-based Concerted Care Group is buying the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera from Behringer Harvard, an Austin, Texas company.

Nordheimer’s group plans to spend $70 million to renovate the Lodge and Spa, and convert it into a health/wellness/addiction treatment center. Nordheimer said when it’s open, he expects to employ 75 to 100 medical professionals and staff, with an average salary of around $100,000.

Cordillera home owners twice appealed an Eagle County interpretation of zoning regulations, saying the treatment center is an allowed use under Cordillera’s development regulations.

The appeal is scheduled to be heard Sept. 20 by the county commissioners.

Cordillera homeowner Michele Larson sued the county in District Court, alleging that the county did not follow its own procedures, and asking that the county’s interpretation be thrown out.

EDWARDS — A Cordillera homeowner is suing Eagle County, hoping to stop The Lodge & Spa from being converted into a health and wellness/addiction treatment center.

Eagle County’s Community Development department gave Baltimore-based Concerted Care Group the green light in June to proceed with the treatment center, based on its interpretation of Cordillera’s development regulations.

Cordillera property owner Michele Larson sued Eagle County and the county commissioners after twice appealing that interpretation. The county commissioners are scheduled to hear that appeal Sept. 20.

“We feel the suit lacks merit and will defend accordingly,” said Eagle County Attorney Bryan Treu.

Larson did not sue Noah Nordheimer or his Baltimore-based Concerted Care Group, which wants to wants to create the treatment facility.

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“(Concerted Care Group) was not named because our present concern is with the inadequacy of the county’s zoning interpretation letter and the county’s failure to follow its own procedures,” said attorney Matthew Larson.

“This is all so sad and unnecessary, and it ends the same way — us getting open,” Nordheimer said.

Failure to follow procedures?

Michele Larson and her attorneys say the legal action is absolutely necessary.

“We are concerned with ensuring, now, that the procedural requirements are met. Once those requirements are met, we can decide whether an appeal is necessary,” Matthew Larson said. “Requiring the county to follow its own procedures will provide the necessary information to address the substantive concerns, if any, that we may have.”

Michele Larson’s lawsuit questions the validity of the county’s interpretation. It calls The Lodge & Spa the “centerpiece” and the “crowning jewel” of the community,” saying it is “the only resort facility in the community and has always been open to Cordillera residents (as) a central amenity to home ownership in Cordillera.”

She also alleges that Concerted Care Group’s agent asked the county to “keep the matter extremely confidential.”

She says in her lawsuit that while Concerted Care Group has told the Vail Daily its plans for The Lodge & Spa, the firm “apparently did not submit … any written description of its proposed use of the property.”

Michele Larson also alleges that Bob Naracci, Eagle County’s community development director, “requested that (Concerted Care Group’s) attorney provide once-over edit” of Naracci’s letter denying Cordillera’s appeal.

Not transparent

Nordheimer said the homeowners’ stalling tactics constitute discrimination and violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal fair housing laws. He also said Cordillera’s boards and Lew Harstead, who filed the initial appeal, haven’t shared letters from his attorney, Thomas Ragonetti, with property owners and therefore haven’t been “transparent.”

Those letters from Ragonetti, obtained by the Vail Daily, insist that by failing to share them with Cordillera’s homeowners, Harstead and Cordillera’s boards have made all 700 Cordillera homeowners vulnerable to lawsuits in federal court.

“From day one we tried to work with them to no avail. The county has upheld our use by right not once but twice,” Nordheimer said.

Discrimination, opposition

Many Cordillera property owners have made their opposition clear in letters to the commissioners. Among their assertions:

• “Don’t be fooled by the ‘wellness’ facility facade. This is a company that deals solely with drug addiction.”

• “The idea of raising my young children in a community where recovering opiate addicts are living so close, deeply concerns me.”

Those letters, and others like them, are “discriminatory,” Nordheimer said.

“They have sent discriminatory letters in the droves to the county commissioners and have had public meetings where they have stated their goals are to slow us down or stop the sale because of our use,” Nordheimer said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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