Penley Dam: Final Effort

 Posted by on 11 July 2011 at 7:00 am  Activism, Colorado, Penley Dam
Jul 112011
 

After many delays, a series of hearings about the proposed Penley Reservoir and Dam was scheduled with the Douglas County Commissioners, starting on June 27th. I went to a whole lot of trouble to attend that first meeting. I wanted to hear the developer’s presentation about the project, and I wanted to speak in defense of property rights. Much to my annoyance, the developer didn’t attend, but instead asked for a continuance. That’s odd, and I suspect that the project is somehow in limbo.

At this point, I don’t plan to attend any further meetings, but I did submit this letter to the Douglas County Commissioners about the project:

Dear Douglas County Commissioners,

My husband and I are residents of Indian Creek Ranch. We support the right of the owners of the Penley Ranch to develop their property. We support the building the proposed dams and reservoir, if that’s what the owners choose.

We support this project based on the principle of property rights. Property rights protect every person from undue interference in his affairs by others, including interference from neighbors and government. Property rights make civilized society and economic growth possible, including the development of much-needed water storage resources.

The owners of the Penley Ranch deserve to have their property rights respected and protected–just like everyone else. As far as we can see, the proposed project would not violate anyone’s rights by imposing an unreasonable risk of harm or nuisance on neighboring landowners. Our only concern is that the developers ought not be permitted to take land using eminent domain, as that would be a violation of property rights.

Of course, some of our neighbors are quite unhappy about the proposed project. But the Penley Ranch is the property of its owners, not of anyone in Indian Creek Ranch. To deny this project due to public pressure would be to violate the rights of the property owners–and that’s dangerous for all of us who value our homes and land.

Sincerely,

Diana Hsieh, Ph.D
Sedalia, CO 80135
Douglas County

Jan 282011
 

As you might recall from my prior post, some local developers seeking to build two dams to make a reservoir on the Penley Ranch, a property that borders our neighborhood. Many of my neighbors are adamantly opposed to that project. After seeing the presentations offered at the Douglas County Planning Meeting in mid-December, I decided that the project was fully within the rights of the owners of that property.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the follow-up meetings in mid-January, when I might have been able to speak my opinion to the Planning Commission. However, a friend volunteered to do so for me, and here’s the statement of mine that he read:

26 December 2010

Dear Members of the Douglas County Planning Commission,

We are residents of Indian Creek Ranch. Unlike many of our neighbors, we support the right of the owners of the Penley Ranch to develop their property. We support the building the proposed dams and reservoir, if that’s what they choose.

The reason that we support the developers is simple: property rights. Property rights say that what’s yours is yours and that what’s mine is mine. Property rights protect every person from undue interference in his affairs by others. Property rights enable every person to live his own life, using the resources he’s earned as he sees fit.

The owners of the Penley Ranch deserve to have their property rights respected and protected–just as we do. As far as we can tell, the proposed project would not violate anyone’s rights by imposing a tort or taking land by eminent domain. Of course, some neighbors might not be happy about the proposed project. But the Penley Ranch is the property of its owners, not of anyone in Indian Creek Ranch, and we ought to respect the rights of those owners.

For those reasons, we urge Douglas County to approve this project. In addition, we urge our neighbors to reconsider their opposition. We urge them to uphold the principle of property rights. Remember, the Penley Ranch will be developed–somehow, someday. Indian Creek Ranch can work with the developer now to make the project a win-win for everyone–or we can find ourselves living next to a landfill in ten years. Let’s choose our course wisely.

Sincerely,

Diana Hsieh, Ph.D and Paul Hsieh, MD
[Address omitted]
Douglas County

Unfortunately, the Planning Commission caved to the public pressure by recommending against the project. The debate now moves to the Douglas County Commissioners. Unfortunately, they moved the date of that meeting to an evening when I already have settled plans, so I don’t imagine that I’ll be able to torture myself by attending. However, I’ve updated and submitted the above letter as follows:

27 January 2011

Dear Douglas County Commissioners,

We are residents of Indian Creek Ranch. We support the right of the owners of the Penley Ranch to develop their property. We support the building the proposed dams and reservoir, if that’s what the owners choose.

We support this project based on the principle of property rights. Property rights protect every person from undue interference in his affairs by others, including interference from neighbors and government. Property rights make civilized society and economic growth possible, including the development of much-needed water storage resources.

The owners of the Penley Ranch deserve to have their property rights respected and protected–just like everyone else. As far as we can see, the proposed project would not violate anyone’s rights by imposing a tort or taking land by eminent domain.

Of course, some of our neighbors are quite unhappy about the proposed project. But the Penley Ranch is the property of its owners, not of anyone in Indian Creek Ranch. To deny this project due to public pressure would be to violate the rights of the property owners. That would be a grave moral wrong.

Hence, we urge Douglas County to approve this project.

Sincerely,

Diana Hsieh, Ph.D and Paul Hsieh, MD
[address omitted]
Douglas County

That will form part of the record, even though I cannot attend to read it myself. If you live in Colorado, you’re more than welcome to write a letter too. You can write in support of property rights, as well as the development of much-needed water storage resources in Colorado. Please send any such letters to the following address:

Curt Weitkunat, Chief Planner
Douglas County Planning Services
100 Third Street, Castle Rock, CO 80104
cweitkun@douglas.co.us

E-mail is fine, but please send them by Thursday, February 3rd. Also, be sure to include your address.

Property Rights, Close to Home

 Posted by on 11 November 2010 at 8:00 am  Activism, Colorado, Penley Dam
Nov 112010
 

I’ve got a very local activist project brewing, and I thought I’d tell you about it now, before it gets hopeless complicated.

Many of the people in our semi-rural neighborhood are up in arms about a dam and reservoir proposed for a neighboring property. That property — the Penley Ranch — is between us and the Rockies, so any dam seems likely to mar our view somewhat and perhaps cause some other (seemingly minor) problems.

Unfortunately, many people in our neighborhood and area seem determined to use force — via our county planners — to stop the project. To justify that, they’re appealing to anything that might be effective: environmental regulations (including some endangered mouse), historic value, diminished property values, increased flood risk, etc. As far as I understand, water rights are not an issue.

You can find more details about the project — and the opposition to it — in this 9 News article.

As far as I understand, this dam project is wholly private. So, as you might expect, Paul and I regard property rights as paramount. But I’d not yet said anything, as the county meetings won’t happen until late December.

At present, my major concern is that the people opposed to the dam will represent the whole neighborhood as opposed to it. So far, the opponents been the only people talking, so they might assume that others agree with them. However, that would be terribly unfair to the rest of us.

This morning, a board member for ICRIA (our neighborhood association) expressed his reluctance about involving ICRIA in this matter, precisely because he imagines that not everyone agrees that the dam should be stopped. That seemed like the perfect opening for me to register my dissent.

Here’s the note that I wrote:

From: Diana Hsieh
Date: November 10, 2010 7:58:35 AM MST
Subject: Re: Meeting

Hi ICR Neighbors,

I don’t know as much as I would like about this project, but in light of Mark’s worries about [the board of our neighborhood association] representing the neighborhood, I figured that I should say something.

My husband and I are strong advocates of property rights. We believe that people should be able to develop their property as they please, without government interference, provided that they don’t violate the rights of others. So we must oppose any attempt to stop this project based on environmental regulations, diminished property values, historic beauty, or minor flood risk — absent some genuine tort.

Hence, we would be wholly opposed to either ICRIA or the Riding Club speaking on our behalf, given that we are not likely to agree with what is said. And if that happens, we will be obliged to speak out against what is said in our name — and that will only create hostility in the neighborhood and confusion about this issue. I’d really like to avoid that.

I would ask that people only speak for themselves — and for their neighbors that they know agree with them. Instead of using non-political organizations like ICRIA and the Riding Club, why not form a “committee against the dam” or something of the sort that can speak for all the nearby residents (not just in ICR) opposed to the project? That way, you’ll be representing people fairly and accurately. That would be best for everyone, I think.

– DMH

Alas, one woman already wrote everyone to express her disagreement with my proposal that opponents of the dam form a separate group, insisting that she wants the ICRIA board to speak for her. Our by-laws don’t seem to allow for that, but I fear that mere words on a page won’t be much of an obstacle. Alas.

Whether our neighborhood association involves itself or not, I might form a group for “Citizens for Property Rights in Douglas County” or something, to coordinate and represent those of us who don’t want the government meddling with private property. If you have any advice on doing that effectively, please let me know! I’ve never done anything so local before.

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