Fence lawsuit a no-go

Cullen to petition county, statehouse

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After threatening the Highlands Ranch Metro District with a lawsuit in February, calling the district’s arterial fence replacement program “unconstitutional,” former board member Philip Cullen has decided not to go through with a suit.

In a June 5 email addressed to Metro District general manager Terry Nolan, board chairman Rick Owens and the Highlands Ranch Herald, Cullen said that after a thorough review of case law, his attorneys “do not believe there is a legally recognizable claim against the HRMD” for him to move forward.

Cullen feels the district’s fence replacement program unfairly creates two classes of taxpayers within Highlands Ranch — those who receive direct benefit by abutting the fence line and those who don’t. He previously claimed the program was in violation of state statutes. He said he was extremely disappointed by his attorney’s findings.

“I view this as a setback, but it has not changed my mind that the HRMD policy is unwise and treats Highlands Ranch residents/taxpayers unequally,” Cullen said. “Since a legal remedy is not available to me, I must consider other alternatives.”

Cullen said he is now enlisting the “court of public opinion” and is in the process of drafting two letters, one to Douglas County commissioners and the other to Highlands Ranch’s state representatives. Both letters, he says, will be accompanied by signed petitions.

The letter to the commissioners will address what he calls the “inequitable method by which the HRMD funds the fence replacement program,” and the letters to the state Capitol will ask area representatives to address what he sees as a need for counties and large metro districts to be given the authority to have public ballot initiatives.

“I will be seeking canvassing firms to help carry out petition drives supporting the letters and possibly hiring a firm to conduct a community survey,” Cullen said, adding that he is also considering using a firm to initiate director recall elections.

When asked if he had anyone targeted for recall, Cullen said there was no one specific, but that board officers, Owens, Vicky Starkey, the vice-chair, and Allen Dreher, the board treasurer, would be those most likely considered.

The Metro District has maintained the parkway landscaping and fencing since 1981.

“Our role in maintaining parkway fence and landscaping is to present the community a pleasing, consistent look and attractive backdrop for those traveling along arterial roads throughout Highlands Ranch,” said Nolan. “The arterial fencing is also a significant factor in maintaining property values throughout the community.” 

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