Summit commissioner declines to engage in Fiester Preserve discussion at Democrats meeting |

Summit commissioner declines to engage in Fiester Preserve discussion at Democrats meeting

The parcel of land known as the Fiester Preserve near Frisco is at the center of the housing development debate near the Bill’s Ranch neighborhood.
Liz Copan /

FRISCO — At the first meeting of the year for Summit County Democrats, an expected forum discussion on county government action to condemn Fiester Preserve near Bill’s Ranch failed to materialize, with the county declining at the last minute to participate in the discussion.  

Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier was slated to appear at the meeting at the Summit County Community and Senior Center to talk about Fiester Preserve. Bill’s Ranch resident Karen Little has been among the most ardently opposed to the condemnation and was in attendance at the meeting with the expectation of engaging Stiegelmeier in a debate on the fate of Fiester.

However, when the Fiester agenda item came up for discussion, Summit County Democrats Chair Patti McLaughlin announced that Stiegelmeier was unable to attend the meeting as she was attending a different engagement in Avon.

Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence, who attended the meeting to present on the 2020 census, declined to speak about Fiester Preserve in Stiegelmeier’s place.

“I don’t believe this is the route we want to take,” Lawrence told fellow Democrats. “If it’s going to be a forum on the issue, I believe we should include Staying in Summit, Summit Seniors Inc. and others who have their own interests involved. … Since we don’t have these groups speaking, we have chosen not to participate in this forum. I still believe we can come to a compromise in the future.”

Little was able to briefly present her case to the audience. She argued that even though Bill’s Ranch residents were not a party to the legal case between the county and Colorado Open Lands, that their voice mattered as the preserve was in their backyard. She also argued the need for the county to keep its promises.

“The issue is that when a promise is made in perpetuity, the people who made the promise should be held accountable to it,” Little said.

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