Elected officers in small Colorado city abused energy to run off competing RV park, lawsuit alleges

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A pair of elected officers in a small city in El Paso County abused their energy and adjusted city rules to run off a enterprise competitor, in keeping with allegations in an antitrust lawsuit filed in U.S. District Courtroom this month.
The lawsuit alleges Cameron Chaussee, previously mayor of Calhan, and his cousin Tyler Chaussee, previously a city council member, voted to cross onerous rules in 2018 aimed toward stopping a brand new RV park from opening down the street from an present RV park owned by the Chaussee household.
“They put this large new hurdle up,” mentioned Eric Corridor, lawyer for Van Sant & Co., the plaintiff within the lawsuit.
The allegations revolve round two properties in Calhan, which has a inhabitants of about 780 and is located about 30 miles northeast of Colorado Springs.
One property, Cadillac Jack’s RV Park & Campground, is an working RV park on Fifth Road. It’s owned by Continental Properties, which in state enterprise information lists Blake Chaussee as its president and Annette Chaussee as secretary. They’re the previous mayor’s father and grandmother, in keeping with the lawsuit.
Van Sant & Co. owns the second property, on Eighth Road, and for years operated it as a everlasting cell residence park with long-term residents.
However in September 2018, Van Sant & Co. started to transform its long-term cell residence park fully right into a short-term RV park, in keeping with the lawsuit. The corporate began terminating its leases with cell residence residents — a six-month course of — eradicating cell houses from the property and cleansing up the realm, in keeping with the lawsuit.
“The city’s response was swift,” the lawsuit says.
In October 2018, Tyler Chaussee and Cameron Chaussee, in addition to a 3rd council member, Roger Lemesany, voted 3-Zero to cross new rules for RV parks. The rules “dramatically” elevated the price of working an RV park, in keeping with the lawsuit — however they grandfathered in any RV parks already in operation earlier than Nov. 30, 2018.
“The RV ordinance… was clearly enacted to stifle the aggressive influence of the Plaintiff’s deliberate RV park,” the lawsuit alleges.
Cameron and Tyler Chaussee didn’t return requests for remark for this story, nor did Jasmin Thorp, who’s the present mayor of Calhan, or the city’s lawyer, Jefferson Parker. An administrative assistant who answered the telephone at city corridor mentioned the city had no remark as a result of the lawsuit was being reviewed by authorized counsel.
Colorado’s code of ethics for native authorities officers requires officers to reveal any time they’ve a private curiosity in a choice and recuse themselves from voting on that call. It additionally prohibits officers from making choices that economically hurt companies if the official has “a considerable monetary curiosity in a competing agency or endeavor.”
Though the lawsuit alleges such monetary connection, it doesn’t present proof that the Chaussee cousins earned cash or financially benefited from the household’s RV park, and Corridor mentioned Wednesday he didn’t have that proof in hand.
“We’ll should get that data from discovery,” he mentioned.
Calhan has a seven-member council of trustees — together with the mayor — and every trustee has one vote, in keeping with its web site. On the day the RV rules had been handed, nonetheless, two trustees had been absent and one other spot was vacant, which left solely 4 trustees. One abstained from the RV vote for causes not clear within the assembly minutes; he didn’t return a request for remark searching for clarification.
Lemesany joined the 2 Chaussee cousins in voting for the rules, in keeping with the minutes. In a quick interview Wednesday, Lemesany mentioned he was in favor of the rules as a result of two new RV parks had been going up on the town at the moment.
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“A part of the explanation was there have been two different parks that they had been placing within the city, so we needed rules for these parks,” he mentioned, including that the city’s lawyer authorized the modifications.
Lemesany declined to touch upon the allegations within the lawsuit as a result of he mentioned he had simply realized about it on Tuesday and didn’t have all the small print.
There are two working RV parks on the town now, together with the Chaussee household’s property. The second, Jolly RV & Tiny Dwelling Websites, integrated in October 2018 however had been in enterprise since 2015, its proprietor, Calvin Jolly, mentioned.
As a result of the park was up and operating earlier than November 2018, it was grandfathered in and doesn’t should adjust to the city’s new rules, Jolly mentioned. He thinks Van Sant & Co. filed the lawsuit simply to keep away from the expense of upgrading its website and mentioned they’re attempting to avoid the city’s rules.
“In case you’re going to purchase one thing and also you’re going to vary using it, then it’s important to comply with the rules,” he mentioned. “This firm is simply attempting to brief reduce so that they don’t should spend that type of cash.”
Corridor mentioned the Van Sant property remains to be sitting unused.

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