MY LAND, MY VIEWS
After attending the meeting on the skyline regulation that the Planning Commission held at Centennial Hall Feb. 2, I still have some very strong feelings about the issue. I think what has everyone so stirred up is the regulation. Nobody wants someone else telling them what they can do with their own land. I think that even the people that expressed their support for the skyline regulation would in turn be against myself or anyone else telling them that their home or property was an eyesore or that they couldn't build their house because I didn't like the color or the shape of it.
I don't think that there was a person in the room that night who would like to see a house on the skyline. But they don't want any more government intervention into what they can do on their own property.
There was a lot of conversation about how nobody was going to regulate where you could build your house but they want to tell you how to build it.
I can tell you that after just building my own house that the government already has too much to say about what you can do on your own property and how you can build your own house.
There are already so many regulations to protect the public from itself that in order for my children to continue to live in Routt County, they will have to go out and purchase their own property because the ranch my parents bought and passed down is not big enough for that many houses.
Due to the regulations and many senseless permits that are required in Routt County, it cost me probably $40,000 to $50,000 more to build my house here than if I would have built it in Moffat County.
I guess what I am trying to say is that we feel there is enough regulation on private property and we are tired of trying to satisfy someone else's personal agenda.
I think the county needs to back off the strong-arm tactics and start trying to work with the landowners a little more.
We have heard it over and over again how beautiful it was here 10, 15 and 20 years ago when they first came here. Well, it was even nicer before they came. But one thing that we all have to remember is everyone has to live somewhere and just because we are here doesn't mean that we can slam the door to anyone else.
It was said so many times at the meeting that it is their view that is being taken by building on top of a hill. The way I see it is that if I had to come to town or to your house and stop and look through your window, that would be called invasion of privacy and I would be labeled a Peeping Tom. Well, I feel that you looking onto my land is an invasion of privacy. And maybe you should keep your eyes on the road.
I think it was stated very clearly at the meeting. "This is my land and not yours. If you want the view you can buy it. Otherwise enjoy it as I do."
A DIFFERENT VIEW
It is distressing to read inaccurate articles in our local newspaper. "Skyline Rules up for Debate," (Today, Jan. 30) misleads readers into thinking that a house has to be more than 40 feet high to be eligible for skyline regulation. The reporter, obviously mistakenly, misquoted Chad Phillips, the assistant planning director.
It is even more distressing to read editorials based on the misreportage. "Our View: Middle Ground," (Pilot & Today Feb. 4) incorrectly assumes 39-foot houses would be excluded from present regulation proposals.
What is most appalling, however, is the insinuation in the same pompous editorial that our local county government is exercising "dictatorship" rather than "creative leadership" in the matter of skyline regulations. Just the reverse is what has really happened:
The planning staff has taken great pains to study the matter, has examined a number of other counties' attempts in regulation and presented to the public in the meeting on Feb. 1 suggested guidelines, none of which automatically prevent a house being built on a skyline. The county commissioners, in concert with the entire Planning Commission (a volunteer group), presided over that meeting, in which a number of interesting ideas, both in support and in opposition to the guidelines, were offered by the public. That meeting was truly a magnificent example of democracy in action. The officials were painstakingly moderate in their attempts to come up with possible compromises in the guidelines, as well as carefully deliberate in acknowledging the wide range of opinions.
I would like to commend the county commissioners, the Planning Commission and the planning staff for their considerable efforts. All of them have tried to listen to conflicting voices and yet still lead toward a positive solution, which, I'm sure, will be very "creative" and not in the least "dictatorial."
On the other hand, I actually attended the meeting on Feb. 1. Quite obviously, your editorial writer did not.
PARTICIPATE IN LAW
Sunday's edition of the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Boat Quote, Feb. 4) asked local residents, "Do you believe in our judicial system?" I was saddened to see that the response from the majority who responded, was simply "no." The general consensus seems to be that lawyers are to blame for the ills of our judicial system, i.e. "truth and honesty have little relevance," "lawyer's have too much influence and control" and "it's all turning into money and lawyers and their choice of words."
Being a lawyer myself, I am used to the myriad of lawyer jokes and general teasing that seems to accompany my profession, but what concerns me the most is society's general blaming of lawyers for a justice system gone against the grain of most citizens.
First, America's justice system is the best system in the world in dispensing justice and fairness. No one is naive enough to believe that there are not problems, or that we could not find ways to do things better, but on the whole, our system is only as good as the people who make up the system.
Most people end their analysis of the justice system right there, thinking that lawyers and judges make up the system and thus lawyers are to blame for cases in which a lady gets millions of dollars for spilling her McDonald's coffee in her lap, innocent men wrongly accused of a crime are sentenced to awful penalties and a murderer in Los Angles buys his freedom with millions of dollars of fancy lawyer talk. However, this analysis is simply incorrect, because lawyers and judges were not to blame for these miscarriages of justice, but rather the common citizens in each one of these communities. Why? Because in our form of government and justice system, juries decide if someone committed a crime, or if someone should be held liable for damages.
I submit that if there is anything wrong with America's justice system it is not that we have too many lawyers, or that lawyers make too much money, but simply that people don't care about their civic duties, and care less about their neighbors and communities.
I have been a lawyer and a prosecutor in Routt County for several years. Why, in the last half-dozen jury trials that I have prosecuted, have the local citizens of Routt County failed to show up for their civic duty jury duty? In the last trial that I prosecuted at the Routt County Courthouse, of 100 local citizens who were issued summons to appear for jury duty, only 13 actually found their way to the courthouse. How can anyone believe that justice can be fairly dispensed when the basic building block of the system jurors fail to even participate?
We are all busy, and taking three days off work to sit in a jury box can be tough. Who in Steamboat Springs is not busy? Who does not work three jobs to make ends meet? But if you were accused of a crime, wouldn't you want a fair trial? If you were wrongfully sued wouldn't you want a fair day in court? As a community, don't you want violent criminals held responsible for their crimes? None of this can happen when people simply are too busy to sit as jurors. None of this can happen when people try to come up with every excuse known to mankind to get off jury duty.
Jury duty is a personal sacrifice for everyone that participates in the justice system. It can be the hardest duty any citizen is ever called to perform. But it is also the most crucial and most important part of our judicial system. Next time you blame a lawyer for some crazy case that you read about in the paper, ask yourself what you would have done as a juror, and next time you get a summons for jury duty in the mail, don't skip out, and don't create your "Top 10 List" of excuses to get out of service.
When solid, concerned and community-oriented people show up for jury duty, and sacrifice their own personal time for the good of our community, justice will triumph and everyone will believe in our judicial system.
SORRY ABOUT FANS
As a resident of Steamboat for the past five years and an avid supporter of hockey for the past 30-plus years, I would like to respond to the recent letter to the editor in your newspaper. I was at the game in question just as I have been at many games in the Howelsen Ice Arena over the years and I would hope that one isolated incident does not tarnish our reputation of being a great town to play and watch the sport of hockey.
With regards to the rowdy fans, I was the person who invited these gentlemen to come to the game hoping to share my favorite sport of hockey with a bunch of guys who had never seen a game and hoping to have more fan support for the women's team I help coach. One person in this group behaved inappropriately and the rest of his friends unfortunately did not put an end to his antics. Such an incident will not happen again when these young men come out to cheer on their hometown ladies.
I would also like to say that I hope the excellent job the crew at the rink does to maintain such a well-run facility is not tarnished by this isolated incident. We have all learned a valuable lesson which will make everyone who helps out with hockey in Steamboat more aware of the role we need to assume as stewards of this great game.
If you have never seen hockey or it has been awhile since you last attended a game, think about coming and watching one of Steamboat's most exciting winter sports. I can assure you that you will be glad for having ventured out to the Howelsen Ice Arena.