The Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District in Falcon, northeast of Colorado Springs, is one of those planned communities where residents get all sorts of amenities.
The 2,400 homeowners get to enjoy 63 acres of open space, miles of trails, two recreation centers with indoor and outdoor pools, exercise facilities, playgrounds, meeting rooms and more. Here’s a map of the district’s trails and recreational facilities.
The district also provides water, sewer and streetlight services to the community. And it employs a staff of about 15 to maintain the community, which is protected by covenants.
In addition to the staff, the district has a five-member board to oversee the district. They are homeowners are elected by the neighborhood.
As with any homeowners association or neighborhood board, there is conflict.
About a year ago, the board found itself in conflict with Ron Pace, a 45-year-old disabled veteran who moved to Woodmen Hills in 2006.
Pace heard stories about over-paid staff and got upset when water rates started going up. He started asking questions about the budget and salaries and covenant enforcement. Board members and staff didn’t like the way he asked his questions. They found him threatening. In fact, they accused him of threatening to “blow people away” with an AK-47.
Things distintigrated. Here’s a story The Gazette wrote in June 2009 about the conflict. Residents took sides. There were dualing Web sites created to argue the issues. Pace had one site and an ally built another.
Pace admits he gets on peoples’ nerves. He is from the East Coast and he comes across more loud, profane and abrasive than folks in the West may be used to, he says. But he says he never threatened anyone and would never hurt anyone.
El Paso County Magistrate Robin Chittum believes him.
She found him loud, often inappropriate and annoying. But, as she said, welcome to public service. If you don’t want to deal with people like Pace, don’t run for office.
In fact, after what may be the longest trial in Colorado history regarding civil protection orders, Chittum dismissed the complaints against Pace, giving him freedom to again go anywhere in the district, attend board meetings, view records, approach staff and board members.
Here’s how pace-press-release described the magistrate’s decision.
And this is a news release from the Woodmen Hills Metro District responding to it:
Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District Press Release
November 17, 2009
On Monday, November 8, 2009 Magistrate Robin Chittum in an hour long ruling denied the civil protection orders against Mr. Ron Pace as requested by Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District (the “District”) and its District Manager Larry D. Bishop, Sr.
While the petitioners in the case do not necessarily agree with the magistrate’s decision, they respect the legal process and the court’s ruling.
The District had alleged it was entitled to the civil protection orders pursuant to C.R.S. § 13-14-102 against Mr. Ron Pace for the purpose of preventing assaults, threatened bodily harm and stalking.
Although Magistrate Chittum denied the civil protection orders she found that the District had expressed some valid concerns.
Specifically, Magistrate Chittum stated that Mr. Bishop’s testimony was straight forward, motivated by a desire to protect District employees, including keeping them happy and safe. She found that Mr. Bishop’s actions concerning the civil protection orders were not politically motivated or connected to the recent District recall election.
During the proceedings, the District had presented evidence that Mr. Ron Pace had committed or engaged in the following acts:
1) At a November 20, 2008, District Board Meeting Mr. Ron Pace in reference to the District stated that “I ought to go get an AK-47 and blow these assholes away.”
2) On December 11, 2008, Mr. Ron Pace stated to Mr. David Hightower that he was frustrated enough that he wanted to bring a gun in to the board meeting.
3) On January 28, 2009, Mr. Ron Pace stated that he feels threatened by the District Manager and the Board of Directors and would not hesitate to get a gun and defend himself against the District personnel, as he slapped his hip as a gesture of carrying a weapon.
Magistrate Chittum did find Mr. Pace has mental health issues, including paranoia. Mr. Pace testified he has been under the care of a psychiatrist for several years and taking medications.
Magistrate Chittum specifically found that the matter was not brought in bad faith by the District or frivolous, groundless or vexatious. Accordingly, she denied Mr. Ron Pace’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs.
The District had sought protection under the statute based on Mr. Ron Pace’s past statements and behavior, but most importantly to prevent any future harm which is the statute’s underlying purpose. Despite the magistrate’s decision, the District will continue to be vigilant in protecting the safety of its personnel.
Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District staff has been informed of this ruling and, as always will continue to treat Mr. Pace with the same professionalism and respect as that of any other resident.
Mr. Pace shall be permitted to visit the District Office, but will have no greater access than that generally provided to other members of the public. As always, pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-9-110, the District will ask any person to leave who has committed, commits, or threatens to commit acts which disrupt, impair, or interfere with the lawful missions, processes, procedures, or functions being carried on in the office.
Larry D. Bishop, Sr.
Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District
8046 Eastonville Road
Falcon, CO 80831
Phone: (719) 495-2500
Fax: (719) 495-1344