LATEST NEWS & TIME LINE
August 20th, 2019: Recall Election Held. Cody Walker is voted out.
Eric Blackhurst to fill out remainder of Cody Walkers term.
Read all about it!
January 9rd, 2019 (Status): The County Commissioner's meeting January 3 went as expected, especially since they dictated the date of the meeting Donnelly was adamant
this meeting occur before newly elected Commissioner Kefalas was to be sworn in January 8. Another example of the manipulation that has gone on from start to finish
of this episode. They voted 2 - 1 that the process determining the mountain coaster/land use/ zoning/ parking etc had no violations. Donnelly and Dougherty
voted in favor and Johnson was opposed.
If you have the time and inclination, here is the website to watch the meeting....it's two hours you'll never get back.
The most valuable viewing will be the last three minutes when Steve Johnson gives his views on the travesty of entire coaster process.
The arguments our attorney presented made little difference one way or the other – we knew quite well that Donnelly and Dougherty would deny our appeal regardless
of the merits on either side. The fundamental problem we have in all this is that the relevant statutes and codes are so internally inconsistent and mutually
contradictory that they can be argued every which way, as we’re seeing at every hearing.
We have a town staff (and some of the trustees share their views) that is hell bent on developing every last acre of land in the valley for either commercial or
residential use so as to bring more and more people into the valley to boost the sales tax dollar intake. Unless and until we can force the town governance to
step back and take a more thoughtful - and hopefully more balanced - view of what this valley should look like in 20 or 30 years, we will continue to have these
fights that cost everyone both financially and emotionally. It will be a real crusade to try to change all this, not something one looks forward to spending time
on, I’m afraid.
Onward and upward; we are focusing on the suit we've filed in district court which will be viewed by the judge; no date has been set yet. A second suit will be
filed in district court against the Board of Adjustment's denial of our appeal of their previous decision concerning the improprieties of land use.
In last week's Trail Gazette the Town staff denies that there was any collusion when the Development Code was changed back in 2017. Those changes permitted
not only Walker's coaster project on residentially zoned land but will permit similar commercial projects on residentially zoned land throughout Estes Valley.
We have substantial evidence that counters those denials by the staff.
On a friendlier note: we want to have another public meeting at Good Sam's - the EPCATS committee wants to bring you up to date on developments and get your
ideas, comments and input. This battle is all of our collective effort, not just a few who are on a committee. Stayed tuned for a date and time.
In case you want to donate: Make a check to John Gehlhausen PC Trust, mailed to: Diana Van Der Ploeg, 1865 Stonegate Dr
January 3rd, 2019: Next meeting of County Commissioners, @ Estes Park Town Board Room @ 6pm to hear our appeal on the
Planning Commission's decision on the coaster. The Planning Commission took 2 votes at their special meeting in October;
the first vote was to deny the coaster (it failed), the second vote was to approve the coaster (it was a tie which meant
it failed too). However, according to Este Park Town Attorney White, because the Planning Commission voted initially
(months ago) to uphold the Staff's decision on the coaster, the failed vote held no power. We are claiming there was
denial of due process because of the advice of the Town's Attorney.
Please attend the Jan 3rd meeting and speak about the improprieties of Attorney White's advice. If you are willing to speak
but would like points to bring up, contact me and epcats will give you talking points. With our attorney Rick Zier preparing
for 2 upcoming lawsuits (one against the Board of Adjustment's decision and the other against the County Commissioners'
initial decision) Here's how you can help: go online to
-- or --
▸ A check to ..
"John Gehlhausen PC Trust"
.. mailed to ..
Diana Van Der Ploeg
1865 Stonegate Dr
Estes Park, CO 80517
A huge thank you to those of you who have contributed money to this battle. Epcats is the mouthpiece behind the effort but
you have been the heart and soul; thank you thank you. Have a happy holiday
November 14th : Dennis Sohocki Sculpture Auction Closed.
November 8th : Dennis Sohocki, of Sohocki Studios in Denver, (303) 777 2028
has made a generous donation of one of his breathtaking bronze sculptures to help us raise money to fight the coaster. Dennis is a nationally- and internationally-known sculptor. He's
been sculpting for over 40 years and is one of only 5 sculptors who has been invited to and has attended Loveland's juried "Sculpture in the Park" show each year for 35 years.
He carves primarily in stone or wood, then casts editions in bronze. Dennis is donating one of his bronze sculptures entitled "Sweetheart" to the highest bidder. This bronze
sculpture is approximately 13" tall and is one of Dennis' most popular figures. A minimum bid of $600 is required. The entire amount of the final bid will be donated to EPCATS.
Bids can be emailed to Nancy Hills. The sculture can be seen at Dennis's studio. Action closes end of day, Tuesday, Nov 20th.
October 20th : John Kefalas
(Democrat), running against Sean Dougherty (Republican) to fill seat left vacant
by death of Lew Gaiter. Dougherty voted to allow Mountain Coaster commercial use in Residential Zone.
Kefalas’ letter stating his positon follows ....
Dear Estes Park Neighbor
I am very aware of the Estes Park mountain coaster issue as I have met with various folks, reviewed the 43-page
appeal and attended BOCC land use hearing at which Interim Commissioner Dougherty voted against the appeal. Based
on my understanding of this issue and the use classification definition in the land use code, I agree with
Commissioner Johnson’s decision at the 10/2 hearing that this proposal should go through a special review process.
I was disappointed in the Board of Adjustment decision (3-1) to uphold the EP Community Development Dept.
recommendation at their 10/16 meeting, and I will be present at the 10/30 EVPC meeting to observe, listen and learn.
October 16th: Reporter-Hearld, Northern Colorado News covers the disappointing decision by the EV Board
Board of Adjustment on the Mountain Coaster.
Read Article Here
October 16th: 7pm, Board of Adjustments Regular Committee Meeting @ the Estes Park Town Hall hearing room.
Will be discussing appeal of mountain coaster. (discussion starts at ~10:50 into the meeting)
October 9th: 7pm, Estes Park Town meeting @ the Estes Park Town Hall hearing room. Will be discussing a moratorium on Commercial development in
residential zones in the Estes Valley, the Planning Staff's role in future applications, and if there is a need to change how those decisions
are made. Jirsa has said at previous meetings that there is no need to change the codes until the Comprehensive Plan is
updated....years from now. Speculation is that he has a personal interest in this proposal. You might recall that in May, he reinstated
his Elkhorn Project, Inc with the Sec of State. His specific plans are unknown, but his involvement with the defeated 2012 Elkhorn
recreational park makes one wonder if something similar is in the works....either at the Elkhorn location or alongside the coaster.
October 2nd: 6pm, Estes Park Town Appeals Hearing @ the Estes Park Town Hall hearing room. Our county commissioners will be
present to hear our appeal. This is a special time and place to express our extreme opposition to this project. Please be
there early to get a seat.
September 15th: The date is set for the appeals hearing. It will take place on Tuesday, October 2 in the Estes Park Town Hall building starting at 6 PM. We urge you to be there and to take the opportunity to voice your opposition to the project in the public comment segment of the hearing.
September 4th: Our appeals are filed with the Estes Valley Planning Commission, the Larimer County
Commissioners and the Estes Valley Board of Adjustment. Each organization has 60 days in which to consider
the appeal. We don't know in which order the appeals will be considered or the timing. We have been told that
the County Commissioners will provide us with a minimum of 15 days notice of their hearing.
Please go to Appeal and
Appeal Appendix if you'd like to read these documents..
August 30th: We have accumulated 450 names of local citizens opposed to the coaster project. Their names are listed in the site's Who We Are page and will be published in local newspapers as we proceed with our appeals. If you would like your name added to this list, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 28th: Several of our group offered comments opposing the project at today's Town Board neeting. Our efforts to persuade trustees to vote to put a hold on the project and demand referral to an independent review panel unfortunately failed. At the same time, several trustees have made it clear that they have serious doubts about this project and the way it has been handled by town staff. Their support can be very useful to us as the appeals process goes forward.
August 22: Channel 4 (CBS News) interview of two of our EPCATS committee members - Graham Russell and Biff Baird. Biff Baird spoke at some
length at our August 14th Town Board Meeting.
August 15: Arrangements made to accept donations to support appeal efforts via GoFundMe and with a trust fund at a local attorney's office
August 15: Arrangements made to hold follow-up public meeting at Good Sam at 6:30, Wednesday, August 22. PLEASE BE THERE!
August 14: Town Board Trustee Meeting: members of our group and other supporters repeat our opposition
to this project and the dubious way in which it is being handled at Town Board meeting. Trustees agree to
shcedule the topic for discussion at next Town meeting on August 28
August 10: Estes Park News publishes a list of EPCATS supporters numbering well over 300 people - same list as you see on this web site in the "Who We Are" page
August 7: our group retains outside legal counsel and commences preparations for the appeal process, which will likely invole separate appeals to three or possibly four different bodies, including the Larime rCounty Commissioners and the Estes Valley Planning Commission
August 6: Town gives conditional approval for project go-ahead.
July 25: Walker submits revised application statement with various changes to project specifications
July 18: our group holds public meeting at Good Sam which attracts over 100 supporters and numerous offers of help
July 10: numerous members of our group protest the project to the Town Board meeting, requesting trustees to put a hold on the project approval process and to insist the planning group hold a meeting with us to let us ask questions, air our concerns. Mayor Jirsa flat out rejects these requests, insisting the trustees hold no jurisdiction over the matter.
July 8: our group finalizes its rebuttal to the Town’s FAQ paper and distributes to trustees (See FAQ).
July 6: Town management advises project approval delayed again. We don’t know how long or why.
July 5: Cody walker backs out of July 6 meeting saying he is “needed at tomorrow’s rodeo”. When asked to request town management to put a hold on the project approval process until we can meet with him, he tells us he cannot interfere with town management’s activities.
Town management issues an FAQ paper offering its interpretation of the development code and justifying its refusal to allow a review by the EVPC.
Cody Walker agrees to meet with some of our group on July 6 to discuss the project.
End June/First Week July:
Large number of messages sent from all over the Estes Valley to Town Trustees urging them to fulfill their responsibilities and demand an opportunity for
public comment before Town management approves project. Trustees’ response: “Nothing to do with us; project is outside town perimeter”. Another WRONG
judgment and an abrogation of their responsibilities as elected officials.
June 30: our group holds emergency meeting to expedite action plans.
June 29: Town management informs EVPC members and other interested parties that, contrary to earlier assertions (see above), project
may now be approved as soon as “the end of next week” (July 6). No reasons given for change in timeline.
Town Community Development Director advises approval process will take as much as several months while reviews are conducted
by various Larimer County agencies and requirements not covered in the original application are addressed.
Our group holds its first meeting to develop a coordinated strategy to fight project
End May/Early June:
Project comes to the attention of the Estes Valley Planning Commission (EVPC), which typically conducts initial review of major development projects. However,
we are told by the Town Administrator there will be no EVPC review because the project parameters fail to meet the minimum criteria. We believe the Town’s judgment on this is WRONG.
April 18, 2018:
Cody Walker files a Statement of Intent on April 18th, 2018. For project outline and current details, go to
and click on Mountain Coaster. The amount of engineering design work and studies conducted show the project had been in the works for
several months before the filing.
April 10, 2018:
The Planning Staff presented to the EVPC some code changes. The stated reason was to help the Eagle Rock School
expansion. These included allowing the increase of nonconforming structures and uses by as much as 50%. The EVPC
denied the proposed changes as overbroad & not needed for the Eagle Rock School expansion.
Town Board approved the above changes – Walker did not recuse himself, and the other Trustees were not informed of
Walker’s plans and how this could assist him
Planning Staff submitted a proposal to remove the adjective “noncommercial” from definition of ‘allowable Park & Recreation
Facility uses’. The Planning Commission (EVPC) approved that recommendation as it was presented under the guise of allowing
activities in Bond Park. Specifically, Compatibility with neighborhood character is no longer a factor. More importantly,
multiple uses on a single parcel are now allowed. It used to be one use.
According to Director of Planning, Randy Hunt - Cody Walker met with Planning Staff to discuss the coaster proposal.
Cody Walker was elected to the town board.
-> Click. All documents and filings under "Mountain Coaster"