Vail Daily column: Protect your property rights
December 29, 2016
I served on the Planning and Zoning Commission of the town of Eagle for the past four years. I have some observations about the process of zoning change in the town of Eagle.
The Eagle Town Board of Trustees and the Planning and Zoning Commission constantly refer to the rationale for their decisions as "for the greater good." This is not a socialist country; this is not a democracy. It's a republic. That means individual rights and states rights are supported. That's why we have an electoral college. That's why we have zoning. Zoning was not designed to be changed every time someone requests it. It should be the exception, not the rule, to change zoning.
It is not written anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, any state laws, county laws or town laws that we have to make decisions "for the greater good." But somehow that rationale was instilled in the decision-making process in the town of Eagle. It's time for that to stop. We need to respect people's personal property rights.
I also own a home in Denver. The residents of my neighborhood in Denver recently requested a zoning change to protect the architectural integrity of our homes. Our city councilman requested that we circulate a petition and get 90 percent of the owners in the neighborhood to sign it before he would even present it to the Denver City Council. That was not a legal requirement. He wanted us to have that much neighborhood support. We obtained the 90 percent approval of the neighborhood. Quite a feat. Why does the city of Denver have more respect for zoning and personal property rights than we do in the town of Eagle?
I have been at many meetings of the Eagle Town Board of Trustees and the Planning and Zoning Commission where 90-100 percent of the residents surrounding a zoning change opposed it. They were listened to politely, and completely ignored — because the zoning change served "the greater good," according to the members of the board and the commission.
The review of the Village Market proposal for the Eagle Ranch business district was a particularly disturbing case. Kevin Brubeck, of the Town Board of Trustees, and I were the only dissenting votes regarding building a grocery store over half of the parking lot right behind some town homes and condos. More than 20 residents directly affected by this vote wrote letters and came to the meetings to protest. They were shocked that their concerns were completely ignored.
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You can expect that will continue unless you, the residents of Eagle, start to pay more attention to the way decisions are made. Some day you may find yourself sitting in the Eagle Town Hall in total shock that the zoning surrounding your property is being changed "for the greater good."
The schedule for meetings, the agendas and meeting minutes for the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Board of Trustees can be found at http://town ofeagle.org/445/Departments-Services. Read the agendas and the minutes for the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Board of Trustees. See how the members vote and what their comments are. I suggest that you also attend meetings and send letters. We do have some members who pay attention to your input. You'll soon figure out who they are. Vote accordingly in the elections. Protect your personal property rights.
Donna Spinelli lives in Eagle.
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