Not quite an aberration

Sidebar by Martha Quillen

Mountain Life – July 2004 – Colorado Central Magazine

Editor’s Note:

Allen Best introduces the idea of mountain mavericks wanting to do whatever they please. But we’d like to point out that Marvin Heemeyer wasn’t an aberration in being far more furious about what his neighbors were able to do than about what he could not.

For better or worse, there’s a lot of NIMBY sentiment in rural Colorado. In fact, the most bitter controversies we can remember in the last few decades have been about towns or counties supporting housing developments, ski areas, gravel pits, factories, dumps, mines, etc.

In fact, we think resistance to so-called progress is inevitable in small towns — since many people live here because they don’t particularly like development, industry, traffic and crowds. Thus, we view skepticism and objections as healthy — even when we personally support a project.

Without challenges, wildlife and scenery tend to get bought out, and all too often mountain hamlets start looking and feeling like metro Denver. But there are plenty of ways to express your views. You can complain to proper authorities, write local publications, establish a protest group, start a petition, start a recall election, run for office, investigate your rights, consult a lawyer — or sue.

Occasionally, however, none of that is going to work, because not enough people agree with you, or you just don’t have enough evidence or any legal recourse.

But that’s what democracy is about: sometimes you lose. And if that makes you fantasize about destroying your neighbor’s property, we figure it’s a sure sign it’s time to move.

Reports vary somewhat, but Heemeyer apparently opposed a proposed concrete plant in Granby, which passed, and went in near his muffler shop. Heemeyer subsequently blamed the plant for ruining his business. Then, in notes he left behind, he indicated he believed that the plant had killed people, including himself. An autopsy showed that Heemeyer had an enlarged heart, but it was not considered serious and he was described as healthy — except he was dead by his own hand. –M.Q.