Welcome to the Wild West





The Teller County Commissioners got an earful last week from an Indian Creek resident regarding a subject that continues to generate much debate but little definite action: residents living in temporary structures who don’t abide by codes. “They think it’s the Wild West,” blasted resident Cathy Mahrholz, in describing the living conditions of certain neighbors in her subdivision, who refuse to abide by any codes.

She described a litany of problems, such as camping on land, located near to her, for weeks and months; living in questionable conditions in temporary structures without property sanitation and water facilities; and pursing actions that pose a major public health menace. Moreover, Mahrholz argued that the antics of these people are threatening her property values and hurting the neighborhood. According to the resident, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office is aware of the problems and has responded promptly on several occasions. However, she indicated that their hands are somewhat tied.

The commissioners listened attentively, but didn’t outline a definite course of action. They asked Mahrholz to pursue her concerns with Teller County Administrator Sheryl Decker, who also oversees the building department, which is responsible for investigating code complaints. They assured her that if codes are being violated, the county could intervene. Mahrholz suggested the commissioners consider a public education program regarding what people can do with their property. According to the resident, many perception problems exist regarding these issues. Jim Ignatius, chairman of the commissioners, however, stated that the county just doesn’t have the resources to contact every individual who purchases a lot. But he assured her that the county does have zoning laws and individual property owners have the responsibility to follow these regulations. Balancing the rights of property owners versus having more defined land use laws has always been a tricky challenge in certain rural sections of Teller. The county once grappled for months over new laws governing junk cars and the commissioners remained quite divided over what action to take.