As we listened to the speakers at the recent Visual Impact public hearings, we were disheartened to hear those in favor of the proposed new regulations being so openly dishonest and deceptive in their presentations to the Ouray County Board of County Commissioners and the good people of Ouray County.
We heard a representative of ROCC tout the number of signatures on their online petition, many of which were from tourists, out of state friends and family and those who would only sign as “anonymous.” The real misrepresentation in this petition is the fact that many of those who signed did so relying on the integrity of the person who sent the petition and did not fully realize what they were actually endorsing. When questioned about this by Commissioner Batchelder, the speaker stated that they encouraged the signers to do their own research. No link to the county website, which had the factual information, was to be found on the petition. Later, this speaker told the packed room that the southern part of the county was critical to protect because there were 1,000 mining claims that she personally researched in that area. Making no distinction between patented and unpatented claims, she stated they were all small parcels “less than two acres.” She obviously had not checked her facts, as a patented mining claim, which can be built on, can range from fur to 20 acres, but most are 10 or 20-plus acres in size. A patented mining claim of as little as four acres can result from overlapping claims, but this is unusual. Her claim of “less than two acres” is “patently” false.
A retired attorney from Texas, speaking on behalf of Transition Our Way, publicly stated that 86 percent of the community supported the proposed Visual Impact Regulations, which was intended to make those in attendance believe that the majority of the County supported the changes. Conveniently left out was the fact that the 86 percent came from a sample size of 56 people out of a County population of 4,530!
We heard a retired attorney from California state that the wording in the property disclosure used by realtors did not compel the seller to disclose whether or not he owned a nonconforming structure. Choosing to overlook cited case law to the contrary, those who wish to sell their homes were told to “fire” any realtor who insisted on this disclosure.
A retired land use attorney from New York, also of ROCC and a member of the Planning Commission, vehemently stated that a homeowner can rebuild his home just as it was after a fire. When appropriately challenged by Commissioner Batchelder, he finally admitted this would be the case only if the cost of restoration is less than 50 percent of the value of the home before the fire. If restoration will cost more than 50 percent of the home’s value, it must be brought into compliance with Section 9 of the Land Use Code.
These are only a few of the misrepresentations, falsehoods and deceptions used by the leadership of two organizations who tout wanting to work for the good of the people of Ouray County . It seems that they are convinced that if they repeat something often enough, people will accept it as fact. The people of Ouray County check their facts and have historically prided themselves on belonging to a community where the truth matters and don’t appreciate deception. How sad that this tactic has been used so extensively in this debate; a debate so important to the economic vitality and future of Ouray County.
– Bill Bennett, Jack Flowers, Gail and Dick Jossi, Bud Zanett, and Dean and Judy Skalla