Turmoil tiptoes among the tulips | VailDaily.com

Turmoil tiptoes among the tulips

Kathy Heicher

EAGLE – The gazebo stays … and the flowers that surround it, also.A strongly-worded letter from the county attorney’s office to a local gardening grandmother created some temporary consternation for several other seniors citizens this month. At issue was whether the planting of flowers around the gazebo at the Golden Eagle Manor Apartments complex, and the creation of a “Remembrance Garden” nearby, were a violation of county land use laws. The gazebo and the flowers have been a fixture at the senior citizen housing complex for about seven years. The large rock plaque that designates the site as a “Remembrance Garden” is a more recent addition.The controversy, which led to a few calls to the Eagle Valley Enterprise from upset senior citizens, has been resolved with some discussion, and a formal written request that the garden be allowed.The controversy started Oct. 18, when Lucy Barker, a resident of the senior housing complex and an avid gardener, received a hand-delivered letter from the county advising her that her gardening project violated county regulations. The county is the owner of the Golden Eagle Housing Complex.The letter, written by Deputy County Attorney Walter Matthews, noted that “it has always been Eagle County’s policy that no one is allowed to alter, maintain, destroy, add or erect anything on Eagle County property without approval from the Eagle County Board of Commissioners.”The letter informed Barker she had 10 days to remove any plants, ornaments, or signs, and restore the landscape to its original condition. The letter said Barker she could be subject to a court action, and a possible $500 fine and an additional $50 a day for continued violations if she failed to comply. The letter also noted Barker had in the past requested by letter permission from the Golden Eagle Elderly Housing Corporation board of directors to maintain a garden near the gazebo site. That request was denied. Barker, who at one time managed the apartment complex, has sometimes been at odds with the governing board.Still, she says she was stunned by the letter.”It was so ludicrous … I’m a master gardener who loves to plant gardens, loves to pull weeds, loves to make things nice,” she said. The “Remembrance Garden” started in 1998. At that time, the community gardens were in the unused land adjacent to the senior housing complex. A number of senior citizens who enjoyed gardening there made the plan for a gazebo garden complex. Money for the gazebo, a bird bath, and the flowers came from memorial donations often made in the name of deceased former residents of the complex.Matthews said he was instructed to write the letter by KT Gazunis, who serves on the Golden Eagle Corporation board and who is Eagle County housing director. He said the notice was the standard letter that the county sends out when somebody does something on county property without permission.”I didn’t know anything about a letter,” said Gazunis, who has been out of town for the past week. “There’s nothing new here. You ask permission, and you get it, if it’s reasonable.When informed of the situation in a work session Tuesday, the county commissioners were mostly perplexed. County Attorney Bryan Treu said the county is striving to get people to seek permission, and talk to the county in advance before doing anything on county land.”The gazebo isn’t going anywhere,” he said.Vail, Colorado

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