View From Zerex

I am very proud of the accomplishments my now-grown Child Care students have achieved, and few make me prouder than Ehren Samuelson. For the past few summers I am amazed at how many of my former students and friends of my two grown sons answer the fatherly query “Where are you working?” with the answer, “Fencing with Ehren.”

            Ehren’ s company “Tickle My Fencing” employs 10 or more hard working men and women every summer as he delineates property boundaries with many types of fencing. I’d bet he easily has miles of historic buck rail fencing under his nail belt.

            His parents, Dick and Cathy Samuelson have had the joy working closely with their son on their 40 acre property west of Fraser turn into what can only be called a nightmare as neighbors have set out to severely limit what work can be done on their rural, Forest and Open zoned property.

            Dick and Cathy are the kind of friends you want to have – not only because of the bottomless nature of their generosity – but because of their collection of equipment. The mile-long driveway leading to their house depends completely on the bulldozer, bob cat and other tools to open it after winter storms.  I am sure the few residents who share this road would spend a lot less time at home if it was not for the Samuelsons.

            The high point on the “road” to my High Lonesome Hut carries the moniker “Dick’s Dozer Pass” after he and his dozer crafted my access across 2 miles of rough Forest Service terrain; enabling the construction of the Hut in 1995.

            Dick and Cathy could be victims of what some want to make a new normal in Grand County. Most of us came to Middle Park in the 1970’s because of the mountains. We then stayed because of the people.  The only requirement for Grand County citizenship was “Do unto others and never ask for anything in return.”  In fact, I continue to have a hard time keeping up with the “return” part.

            Doing business while engaged in the constant economic Grand County struggle can be messy. Dick and Cathy moved from Fraser to their 40 acre parcel in 1995 because they needed to spread out a bit. A multi-generational hunting outfitting business is the center of their economic existence.  Ehren cuts poles for his fencing business and keeps his tools in and around his family’s large shop.

            A drive most anywhere in rural Grand County will carry you past ranches and homes with similar collections to the Samuelson’s – almost all located in the Forest and Open zone. Few ranchers understand they technically violate county zoning rules when they take a tractor next door to help out their neighbor – especially if their neighbor helps them with the expense of owning expensive equipment.

            Few of us can afford to, or want to live in covenant controlled neighborhoods where even a car parked in the driveway can be a violation of neighborhood rules.  Note these rules are enforced by neighborhood committees, not local government. Note also these rules are promulgated before a person buys into neighborhood restrictions.

            The Samuelson’s recently received a “Cease and Desist” order from Grand County.  Ehren faces not being able to finish his summer’s contracts.  They have applied for permits to allow them to do what so many in Grand County do – make a living off their tools and property.  At the least, the County should allow Ehren to finish his summer’s work to meet his commitments to customers and to his 11 seasonal employees.

            Dick’s Great-Great Grand Uncle built the stage stop on the 4-4 road next to the covenant controlled Stagecoach Meadows neighborhood. The buildings are currently being rebuilt. My guess is if that operation were up and running as it was 100 years ago, the collection of equipment around it would certainly violate Stagecoach neighborhood covenants.

            The family may appear before the County Planning Commission at 7 p.m. in the Commissioner’s Room in Hot Sulphur on Nov. 8 to ask for permit approval to allow them to continue to make a living on their land (confirm this by calling the courthouse at 970-725-3048, I’ll have an update in my Nov. 3 column). The CPC recommendation will be followed by the actual decision by the Grand County Commissioners at a hearing yet to be scheduled.

            A vibrant discussion centered on how some feel Grand County might be “designed” should be held at these hearings by those interested in how we can, and cannot make a living in our community.