Smith Ranch discrimination complaint will move to next phase in state review process |

Smith Ranch discrimination complaint will move to next phase in state review process

No agreement made between complainant and town in conciliation

A discrimination complaint against the town of Silverthorne will move onto the next step in the process after no agreement was made in conciliation.

A local woman who is on disability filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights division after she was denied entry to the Smith Ranch housing lottery because she could not meet the work requirements.

The state determined there is probable cause that she was wrongfully discriminated against, leading to a conciliation meeting with the town and the complainant.

After holding a conciliation meeting that lasted several hours Wednesday, Nov. 10, the town and the complainant were not able to reach an agreement.

Marie Falzone, who is advocating for the woman through her role as an independent living coordinator with the Northwest Colorado Center for Independence, said they didn’t have expectations going into conciliation since there is so much up in the air but that they were not happy with the results.

“The entire point of conciliation is to see if (she) and the town could come to something that was mutually agreeable,” Falzone said.

Falzone reiterated that the complainant isn’t pursuing the issue so that anyone can get into deed-restricted housing, rather so that accommodations will be made for locals who are unable to meet requirements due to a disability.

“This is for people that are here and are an active part of our community,” Falzone said. “That’s why she’s fighting. It’s not people from everywhere else. She’s been a community member since 2004.

“I’ve gotten calls from other people who’ve been denied. She’s not the only one.”

Jill Sarmo, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, wrote in an email that if conciliation fails in a housing case, it goes to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a seven-member board appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The commission sets a date for the case to be heard by an administrative law judge, and a representative of the Colorado Attorney General’s office will file a notice of hearing and complaint with the office of administrative courts.

Falzone said she expects the case to go to the commission at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland said since they were not able to come to an agreement and the state’s review process will continue, the town will hold further comment until the matter is resolved. Executive Director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority Rob Murphy said the organization will continue working with the town and the state throughout the process.

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