GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – A battle is brewing on Lookout Mountain, and the two sides at odds may surprise you.
Homeowners have filed a lawsuit against Activation Ministries, which plans to triple the size of a church west of Golden.
Many residents who live in the area claim the Jefferson County Commission was unlawful in issuing a permit allowing the church’s expansion. In response, a few dozen neighbors have banded together and filed suit.
A group of concerned citizens met Tuesday afternoon to hear about the lawsuit. Many of the concerns mentioned focused on property rights, safety and traffic.
Bob Heine attended Tuesday’s gathering and noted several potential problems with the church’s planned expansion.
“Tripling that size will essentially triple the auto load of cars on Lookout Mountain Road on a Sunday morning,” he said.
First responders in the area agreed with Heine about problems with the potential traffic increase, as well as the delays that could slow down emergency crews in times of crisis.
Safety isn’t the only concern that citizens are voicing. They are also fighting to keep a natural setting and to preserve the history of the Lariat Loop. The group says those concerns were not addressed by county commissioners, even after more than 350 letters were sent in by community members, many opposing the permit.
“Were you surprised there was so much backlash to your application?” CBS4′s Jeff Todd asked David Thompson, a pastor with Action Ministries.
“Yes, oh yes,” he responded. “There were threats. Personal threats, as well as to the commissioners.”
“I don’t think it would have gotten through the county commissioners (if they hadn’t) dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s. The county has been very effective making sure everything was done up right,” Thompson said.
In their lawsuit, residents claim that the master plan for the area of Jefferson County where the land is wasn’t followed.
“The laws not only protect the value of our property but more importantly safety and security,” concerned citizen Bernie McDowell said at Tuesday’s gathering.
The commissioners say there was a review of the traffic impact and they concluded the road can handle the increase. They also said that the church owns the land, so as long as they meet the water, septic and parking requirements they can expand as they wish.
“The commissioners saw that it’s a property rights-owners rights position,” said DeeDee Thompson, also a pastor for Action Ministries.
“They did their job, and we met what they needed us to meet with their criteria that they established,” David Thompson said.
The county attorney told CBS4 Tuesday that she expects the court to uphold the ruling by the commission.
“We don’t want to fight but — bless our neighbors, if they feel the need to continue this,” DeeDee Thompson said.