Paonia has been one very busy place this past month, so I have multiple items to address. Having attended every town council meeting for the past eight months with few other hard-core audience members, I was less shocked by Mayor Stewart's ejection of Suzanne Watson at the July 10 meeting than the reaction to it exhibited by Bill Brunner and whomever else he could stir up. The so called "faint exclamation" was clearly heard in the meeting room from across the room. Just in case anyone missed the piece in the DCI on July 18, Mr. Brunner addressed a packed room on July 24 seemingly for the sole purpose of making accusations against Mayor Stewart, along with some name calling. On both occasions, Mr. Brunner fails to mention that he was not a witness to the incident. Mayor Stewart is being accused of disliking Miss Watson; I cannot speak to that. I DO like Suzanne, but I do not feel Mayor Stewart was out of line.
I was in attendance for all but the last 15 minutes of July 24 council meeting and again for the July 30 special meeting. I was shocked to learn that one of the food incubation crown jewels, Edesia Community Kitchen, had morphed into a nuisance neighbor. Mentioning to a group of women that I thought the neighbors were being "screwed," the reply was, "The residents knew the warehouses were there when they moved in." A light industrial warehouse operating weekday during normal work hours wouldn't and shouldn't frighten anyone as a neighbor, but once that same property becomes a restaurant, party center and retail establishment from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., the entire equation has changed and complaints about disturbances become valid.
The proponents of such expansion do not help their cause by referring to the complainants as liars, especially when the complainants have video proof to corroborate their complaints. At these meetings, it became clear that the persons most vocally in favor of the expansion of Edesia activities and hours are not affected by the noise, traffic and other problems they are promoting.
Trustee Chelsea Bookout honestly and forthrightly recused herself as she uses the Edesia kitchen and felt a conflict. Barry Pennell stated that since he has no "financial" ties, that he did not have a conflict, but his anti-resident, pro-Edesia expansion bias was beyond blatant. Barry Pennell's social profile lists him as a coordinator of the ENGAGE program at Technical College of the Rockies and since food business incubation is a large part of their mission, if being a program coordinator is a paid position, there are indeed financial considerations.
Town administrator Ken Knight presented lists of "conditions" that might help negotiate an agreement between Edesia and the neighbors that Pennell continually spoke against. He was against a six-month review of the issues, again proving that he does not live near enough to be disturbed by massive amounts of night time activity and has no empathy or respect for residents who wish for peace, quiet, and traffic safety.
Voters of Paonia, know this: If you want to see business developed in the core business district and wish for limited uses in the light industrial zones, Barry Pennell is NOT your advocate.
Food For Thought/Vision Charter Academy has been selected as a State Farm Neighborhood Assist® Top 200 finalist and needs your help by voting for them to receive a $25,000 grant from State Farm®. From now until Aug. 24 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, U.S. residents who are 18 and older with a valid email address can vote for their favorite cause at https://www.neighborhoodassist.com/entry/2012962.