Image Link 09/13/2017

My Letter to my Commissioner, Chris Richardson

Commissioner Richardson,

I am a constituent of your district and someone who voted for you in the last election. Before we proceed further, I’d like to tell you something about myself and my family.

I was born in West Virginia, son of a coal miner. As such, I have seen what unregulated and unmonitored business concerns have done to the land. I have seen tops of entire mountains removed to recover the coal underneath. I have seen the tailings of mines pollute and clog the streams and rivers of my youth. I’ve seen the introduction of non-native flora introduced to the state to control erosion which subsequently decimated native species and man made structures alike. I have seen the results of children drinking contaminated well water - the promise of entire generations destroyed by autism, birth defects, retardation and inhibited immune systems. I’ve seen men die in the mines, destroying entire families and communities. At the age of 17, I enlisted into the Marine Corps and served twenty years, fifteen of which were served overseas. I was assigned to Colorado in 1983 to teach reservists and fell in love with the state. After my retirement, I returned here to make this place my home.

My wife is a product of three generations of Coloradans, transplants from Kansas and Missouri. All of which, including her siblings have served our country and their communities in the Colorado National Guard or the USAF. My wife served thirty-two years as security police/law enforcement officer. Her service to the citizens of Colorado alone include the Great Thompson flood, the Thornton tornado, and numerous blizzards. Those missions do not encompass her deployments to Haiti, Caracas, Korea, Turkey, Wyoming, and Louisiana in support of humanitarian efforts to natural and man made disasters.

Our philosophy is one of individualism, as we can do without the services you profess to provide. We give to charity, our church, and help our neighbors when we can. Any disputes with our neighbors have been resolved amicably just by talking and without county intervention. We shop locally when we can to support our community and our neighbors. In the twenty years Elbert County has been our home, (except for the mandated requirement of registering vehicles) we have utilized county services exactly twice, once to report a found bicycle and once to report a found dog to the sheriff. As we don’t have children and plow our own road, I’d call that a pretty good return on services for what we pay in taxes

In my youth, I read of a study done in 1930s Denmark on a colony of rats that has remained with me over the years. Rats, generally, are a social species not unlike mankind and maintain their societal hierarchy based on individual needs. The rats were initially provided with sufficient space, food and water to support the colony and all was well. No restrictions were placed on reproduction and as the colony grew, food and water were provided in enough quantities to support the colony, but the space provided was not increased. At a certain population point, the social hierarchy of the colony changed: members became aggressive, attacking and killing each other, cannibalization became the norm, raiding the nests and eating the young of rivals was commonplace. Mating was attempted whether the female was receptive or not. Homosexual rape was also observed with the weaker males. Hoarding of resources occurred even though rations were readily available. Those conducting the study believed that lack of livable space created pressure in the colony that led to a societal breakdown. I will leave this for you to draw your own conclusions, but in my travels around the world and even in our own country, I have observed the same phenomena and I see it beginning in our Front Range communities.

Before we finally retired from both our civilian and military careers, we settled just outside of Elizabeth on a small patch of dirt, where we could tend to a small garden, raise a few animals and live out our lives in quiet solitude. As has been our tradition for twenty years, our home is blessed when our family makes the journey to enjoy a country Thanksgiving, Christmas or celebrate a family event. A legacy we hoped to pass to their children

Yours, with Commissioners Wilcox and Thayer’s decision to embrace the Independence development have destroyed that dream. Because of the local terrain, we find ourselves downstream from what will be the Independence sewage retention/reclamation ponds. We will find ourselves prisoner to what will be the same traffic problems that Parker and Castle Rock experience daily. We find ourselves hostage to the inevitable eminent domain seizures that will occur to mitigate those traffic issues where the county or the state will condemn the area and pay ten cents on the dollar of what the property is worth. Most of all, we (and you) will find ourselves at the mercy of future developments that will rob us of our rural lifestyle and western heritage.

If you had read the application, you would have discovered that the County will be responsible for the financial burden Independence will impose on all of us when it’s six special districts fail. The cost of construction labor is up eighteen percent and the cost of construction material is up thirty-one percent from last year. Where is the affordable cost for our teachers or first responders when the base price for a home in the development will be in excess of $350,000.00 that was so touted in the application? What of the local residents whose wells will fail with no remediation from the developer because you did not think to ask for such modifications to the proposal? “Not our problem” eh Commissioner?

You approved this development in spite of state law, county regulations and the objections of your constituents most impacted by your decision. You campaigned on a platform of honesty and transparency, but when public records regarding this development were requested, they were “unavailable”, “lost”, redacted or ignored.

Your search for a quick buck has condemned this and subsequent generations to suffer for your lack of vision. Collectively, your actions have permitted the explosive growth developers want that will turn western Elbert County into Parker East or Aurora South. There will never be a decent development in this County again, you’ve given them the blueprint. As a lifelong Republican, I can tell you that you did the local party no favors by this decision as you have changed the voting demographics in this region forever.

You were elected to represent the interests of all of the citizens of your respective districts, not an outside landholder despite your squeals that you must remain impartial. That is not why you were hired. Modifications to the proposal could have been negotiated with a win-win scenario for all parties but was never entertained. This lack of action alone constitutes a failure of leadership. Because of this and by the other actions noted above, enough cause exists in my mind to demand a recall vote for the entire board. By your actions, whether from incompetence, ineptitude or the taint of corruption, you have proven yourselves unworthy to hold the office to which you were elected.

I will do everything legally in my power to see you removed from office.


Gary Justice