Karma Crash

Betty Gibbs carefully aims her Isuzu Trooper down a steep dirt road carved out of the side of Fourmile Canyon. It is snowing, and the narrow path has become slippery; with hair-raising dropoffs to the south, drivers must cooperate to negotiate the route safely. But as an oncoming Volkswagen van approaches, its occupants purposefully look away from Gibbs, and she swerves to the right to pass, skidding a little.

"That was Stephanie," Gibbs says nervously. Gibbs moved to Colorado from Virginia on a whim in the mid-1960s; in 1979 she moved up to Fourmile Canyon, a sharp cut into the hills west of Boulder. She still lives there today, working out of her home as a computer consultant for mining companies.

"Stephanie used to be someone I was friendly with," Gibbs continues. "Now somebody probably called her because they saw me driving up to the house. That's what it's become like here. This used to be a place where you could walk up to your neighbor and talk to him. Now it's just full of paranoia and hate, people spying on each other, taking pictures. It's become scary."

A tour of the isolated neighborhood perched on the canyon's steep hills is like a visit to a dysfunctional frontier village. On the left, the former Wokasch house: Greg and Tonya bailed to Wisconsin a month ago after becoming fed up with the harassment, which peaked when Greg went out to his truck one morning and found a rock had been chucked through the windshield.

To the right, the place where the Matoskys lived until their marriage dissolved over, among other things, the split between Fourmile residents. "It used to be a real neighborhood," says Paul Matosky, who moved out of the canyon last year. "It was a real community. We would get together, have picnics, Christmas parties. Now it's become very strange, very weird. There is a level of paranoia and vitriol and fear that can't be measured. This is hate."

So where is the dreadful catalyst that has divided this once-tight enclave?
On his way to a bike race in Arizona. "You know how some people find God?" asks Howard "Binx" Selby III, 55. "I found meditation. I conceived a daughter and started riding bikes. I always rode a little. But then I became real serious after I got into the Buddhism thing. And you know what? With focus and concentration, I discovered I could ride very fast."

It was also Selby's conversion to Buddhism that got him thinking about the several hundred acres of sloping and wooded land he had owned up Fourmile Canyon for three decades. He'd snapped up the property for a song while still a student at the University of Colorado, developing some of it in the late 1960s and letting the rest sit. A man of big ideas and wide visions, Selby had gone on to make a name and fortune for himself inventing high-tech gizmos. Now his religious transformation has led him to visualize a social invention: a compact, self-contained mountain village of like-minded men and women, living and meditating together.

Neighborhood opposition soon made it clear that Selby was thinking too big. So he scaled back, imagining a meditation center where his friends and those with similar spiritual inclinations could reflect together. After further opposition--much of it by now bitter and personal--Selby put that concept on hold, too. These days he simply hopes to build a home on the site. A huge, 25,000-plus-square-foot home, to be sure. But, he contends, a home nonetheless.

It's been no picnic for his neighbors. An organization devoted to fighting development in the canyon, Residents Against Inappropriate Development (RAID), has sprung up to oppose Selby's plans. It is led by a woman who cut her activist teeth leading fights against big timber companies in the Pacific Northwest. As a result of RAID's efforts, Fourmile residents have been forced into two hostile camps, with little opportunity for neighbors to stay neutral. "I have become more concerned with the things going on in the neighborhood between neighbors than I ever was about anything Binx has proposed," says Karin Swett, who recently quit RAID in protest over the group's tactics.

"It's a squabble that's brought out the worst in people," says Paul Danish, who as a Boulder County commissioner has spent long hours presiding over meetings where disputes over Fourmile run late into the night.

Land-use fights are a common occurrence in Boulder, where the words "environmental impact" are chanted like a mantra whenever someone suggests plunging a shovel into the earth. Yet the clash in Fourmile Canyon has developed into something different, moving far beyond a rational disagreement between reasonable people. Indeed, says Graham Billingsly, director of Boulder County's Department of Land Use, "this is the worst land-use dispute I have seen in twenty years in this office."

Why has the fight over Binx Selby's plans become so brutal? One of the reasons is that Selby's proposals have, through sheer bad timing as much as anything else, become emblematic of the county's efforts to relieve its growing pains.

Four years ago Boulder County became the only county in Colorado to tackle growth with a strict planning tool for new homes. Like a set of government-enforced covenants, this "site plan review" gives county planners the authority to demand that a home builder meet certain guidelines before he builds. Some of them, such as "environmental impact" and "community character," are imprecise, however. Selby's house was the first to go through the new review process and, as has been demonstrated numerous times since, those vague rules leave much room for disagreement. "Everything becomes political because everything is discretionary," fumes Selby.

Yet the bigger reason for the dispute's escalation is the participants themselves. Given its peculiar demographics, sooner or later Boulder was bound to host a clash between a combatant with the intensely held beliefs of a hard-line environmentalist (an unstoppable force) and a meditative but belligerent Buddhist (an immovable object). "This is an only-in-Boulder story," sighs Linda Fong, Selby's second wife.

"These people are absolutely convinced that they are right," adds Danish. "I have a feeling that if we hooked everyone on both sides up to a lie detector, the needle wouldn't twitch."

Binx Selby's spiritual awakening came on a fishing trip, although not in the one-with-nature, A River Runs Through It, metaphysically inclined way of a fly-fishing fanatic. Rather, it occurred unexpectedly, in a dark tent.

"Several years back I had a company that developed all kinds of products," Selby recalls. "We had developed a lap-top computer thing, which we had licensed to another company to market. The owner recently had brought in his son to revamp the company, and the son was taking it through some big changes, including handling our new product. Well, it was literally on the loading dock when the father rose up out of the grave, panicked and threw out the son--and our marketing agreement."

That failure, after nearly two years of hard work, sent Selby into a steep tailspin. A few months later, when some friends invited him on a fishing trip, he reluctantly agreed. "I managed to do some fishing," he says. "But basically I would spend every day just being depressed.

"On the third day, with daybreak coming, still dark outside, I was in my tent, and I thought I was dying of a heart attack. I thought that this was the end of my life--that I was going to lose everything and that I was going to be wheeling everything around in a shopping cart. But I didn't want to disturb my tent-mate, and so I forced myself to stay completely still. And I began to calm down. Eventually I thought, 'Well, I can cook. I could probably get a job as a sous chef.' And suddenly everything lifted."

Uncertain of what had occurred, Selby knew only that it had elevated him from a dark place. A few days later he heard a radio show featuring a Buddhist monk discussing meditation. What he said seemed familiar, so Selby contacted the radio station, asked for the monk's phone number and placed a call. After a short conversation, he signed up for a ten-day retreat.

For someone accustomed to the frantic pace of starting up businesses, the idea of meditation seemed alarming at first: "The registrar told me that the ten days were to be spent in 'noble silence.' This to somebody with a spec sheet on his steering wheel, two cell phones and the radio always on.

"Well, it turned out to be a transformative experience. I had always thought I was too busy to have children. Now I conceived a daughter. It was so powerful that people wanted to know what had happened to me."

"He lives it and breathes it," adds Jeff Selby of his brother's discovery of Buddhism. "It's become an integral part of his life." It also began giving him some business ideas.

Selby had always been a person whose professional decisions were driven by his personal interests. An enthusiasm for the outdoors led him to CU's hiking club, where he met a friend, Brian Underhill. Together the two men bought 500 acres in Boulder's foothills, at the time a relatively unpopulated area. Selby soon developed about 100 acres of the land, building about forty houses in all. (Today, many of the participants in the dispute over Selby's plans for Fourmile Canyon live in houses he developed and drive on roads he built.)

He then left the country for Malaysia, serving two years in the Peace Corps teaching industrial arts and chemistry. "By the time I returned, I had developed an interest in new technologies," he says. In the following two decades, Selby, whom the Boulder County Business Report once labeled "Boulder's premier eccentric entrepreneur," participated in more than a dozen start-up companies. Many failed. But a few have been successful, and one wildly so.

While in Malaysia, Selby had become interested in the relatively new technology of microprocessors, which he'd used to make a Geiger counter. When he returned to Boulder, he began tinkering in a steel shed on his Fourmile Canyon property (the shed's still there). Combining microchips and floppy disks, he cobbled together the world's first practical word processor. In 1975, with a half-dozen friends and business associates, Selby formed a company called NBI. Five years later they took the endeavor public and became rich. (NBI eventually went bankrupt in 1991, after Selby got out.)

Meanwhile, while he remained one of the largest property owners in Boulder's foothills, Selby found himself being eased out of the development business, although not for lack of trying. "When I came back, the whole mood in Boulder had changed to no-growth," he says.

The shift became evident when Selby proposed a second large development on his remaining land in Fourmile Canyon in 1970. The project was defeated by intense neighborhood opposition, which focused on the development's high density--in particular, the inability of the arid mountain land to provide enough water and septic treatment for the houses.

Once again, though, personal experience set Selby off on another project. "After that development was defeated, Binx vowed never to have another project shot down by water problems," recalls Danish, an old friend. "So he invented PureCycle," a water filtration and purification system he later marketed and sold.

Recently, Selby says, he has been working as a technology consultant, letting others come up with the concepts and take the risks--with the exception of the ideas that have grown out of his new interest in Buddhism.

"In the spring of 1991 I started working on a plan for [the land in Fourmile Canyon]," he later wrote in a pamphlet titled How the Vision Began. "I originally thought I would simply sell off the land...However, every time I had an opportunity to sell, I could not bring myself to go through with it. As I got clearer and also as I worked on the design for my house up there, I realized I wanted it to be a spiritually-based community...someplace where people could follow and explore their spiritual paths in varying levels of commitment, and in the nurturing and supportive environment of a community."

Focused on the spiritual aspects of his Sierra Village, Selby didn't give much serious thought to the physical realities of installing an entire village in a mountainous canyon--an omission completely in character, according to those who know him. "Binx is an idea guy--a free thinker, a visionary," says Paul Matosky, who became friendly with Selby over the years. "He just doesn't execute very well."

Despite the controversy it would eventually create, Sierra Village had its early fans. Danish, for instance, says he was intrigued by the concept, particularly the notion of a planned community of houses clustered tightly together, surrounded by open space (a concept now being embraced by several local developers).

"I thought the idea was very interesting, and I still do," says Danish. "Sierra Village was a vision that grew out of some pretty deeply held beliefs that Binx had. And I don't think it's an unreasonable impulse to want to make the world a better place."

But Selby's neighbors considered his plan an unreasonable encroachment, and it soon became obvious that a village perched on the steep walls of Fourmile Canyon, no matter how spiritual or environmentally friendly, wouldn't fly. Selby never formally proposed the Sierra Village development to Boulder County.

He wasn't quite ready to give up his vision of Fourmile Canyon as a spiritual sanctuary, though. In 1993 Selby had begun constructing a road to a site on a sloping piece of land near the top of the canyon, where he intended to build his home; construction on the house started in early 1994. In the summer of 1996 Selby decided to put a second building on the property--a large meditation center to host retreats.

By now, however, the opposition was geared up to challenge Selby on all of his development plans. "RAID was already formed, and that energy they had gathered to oppose Sierra Village was now focused on the church," he recalls.

A fierce battle erupted, with both sides--and their attorneys--maneuvering for advantage with county planners. (Selby's lawyer, Joseph French, recently demanded the resumes of every county employee who'd worked closely on his client's project so that he could evaluate their credentials to pass informed judgment.) The fight finally ground to an unsatisfactory halt this September, when the Boulder County commissioners put the project on indefinite hold.

Today, Selby says he is concentrating on building his house. But even that project has put his adversaries on guard: RAID contends that with its 27,000 square feet of floor space, which includes a meditation center/dance floor, eight guest bedrooms, a huge kitchen, an indoor garden and a three-story elevator, the residence seems an awful lot like a building intended for communal use.

Selby disputes the charge--sort of. "I want to have a place where interesting people can come and stay with me," he says. "And I do have a meditation room where people will be able to come and sit with me. None of it is stuff that doesn't appear in other houses."

Selby says his acceptance of Buddhism has changed more than his professional aspirations. For example, although he's an expert marksman, he says that since his conversion, handling weapons just hasn't seemed...appropriate. "I used to live to shoot," he says. "It helped me relax. But I haven't done it in years. Now that I'm Buddhist, well..." He also used to spend hours on ornamental blacksmithing. "Now," he says, "I mostly do jewelry, which for me is a sort of meditation."

"With Buddhism," he adds, "you do things instant by instant; you're not hanging on to anything in the past or thinking about the future. It's just the moment, staying in the moment."

That philosophy has helped him during his recent troubles--to a point. "If I were fully enlightened, I could deal with anything," he says, "and I get instances of that that help me. Still, there are times when I'm sitting in meditation and I have terrible thoughts about neighbors who have maligned me."

Naomi Rachel's passive solar stucco home sits at the end of a perilously steep dirt road just off Fourmile Canyon Road. Rolling up the shiny, heat-retaining curtains along the south-facing wall reveals a stunning view of snow-covered, forested hills. Rachel, a poet, and her husband moved here from British Columbia in 1991; they had discovered Colorado while traveling on a writing grant that Rachel won from Canada's equivalent of the National Endowment for the Arts.

In Canada, Rachel had waged furious eco-battles against logging companies harvesting the towering trees that make up the area's old-growth forests. In the fall of 1990, she and a few dozen other protesters were arrested and charged with criminal contempt of court for interfering with the logging operations of MacMillan Bloedel, a large company cutting trees in the Tsitika Valley region of Vancouver Island.

At her sentencing, Rachel, who today teaches creative writing at the University of Colorado, read an essay she'd written; the following fall, it was published in The North American Review, a well-established literary journal. In the essay, Rachel compared her campaign to save the wilderness to fighting a war in which she is a committed and devoted foot soldier.

"What I wish to convey today is personal, political, intensely urgent," she wrote. "Perhaps it has been difficult for your Honor and for many other North Americans to understand why we feel so urgently about the preservation of old-growth forests. They might understand if we were involved in a war zone...

"As a citizen of this planet, I have the responsibility to defend and protect this endangered earth. I feel that many North Americans are too complacent. Surely if our public libraries or places of worship were being burned and destroyed it would be considered the responsibility of every good citizen to stop the pillage. By putting my body down on the road in front of the logging trucks, I am attempting in the only way left to me to educate the people of this endangered land."

An articulate, quick-witted woman who also earns money writing booklets for the National Park Service, Rachel doesn't just talk her environmentalism. "I've been an activist all my life," she says. She keeps no pets, because she believes that doing so is environmentally unsound; she and her husband have also made the decision not to have children--her personal contribution to solving the world population crisis.

Her move to the liberal enclave of Boulder was a deliberate decision to place herself among like-minded people. "A little while back, Selby hired a private detective to find out all he could about me," Rachel recalls. "He found out that I'd been arrested numerous times for civil disobedience. Well, I'm not trying to hide that; I'm proud of it. Besides, this is Boulder--it's not a bad thing here." (Selby says he didn't hire a detective--he did Rachel's background check himself.)

"I've got politics in my blood," Rachel continues. "It's a personality thing; I believe in doing things."

Rachel formed RAID in 1995, soon after hearing about Selby's plans to construct an entire village just to the east of her home. Since then, she has had the opportunity to use many of the aggressive tactics she learned while battling loggers. "My background has absolutely helped me," she says. "I know how to organize, I know how to make presentations."

Rachel's skills have proved remarkably successful in fighting development. She's spent hundreds of hours directing RAID, organizing garage sales to partially offset the approximately $30,000 the group has spent on lawyers and other weapons.

At meetings with Boulder County planners and commissioners, RAID has produced dramatic color photo essays of Selby's property, including professional aerial shots. (How pictures were taken on Selby's land itself has become a sore point. Rachel says a RAID member had obtained Selby's approval to be there early on. "It turns out it's some woman that Binx gave permission to ten years ago to ride her bike on the property," responds Danish. "We all thought that was playing a little bit fast and loose with the facts.")

Rachel has also used ridicule to make her point. At the beginning of the dispute she had a mocking cartoon drawn up of Selby's proposed community, derisively called "Sierra Pillage." The cartoon depicted a frantic and crowded settlement, featuring the "Holier Than Thou Spiritual Center" and a "Stink and Drink Kool Aid" stand. Flying over it all was Selby, in his "Liar Jet."

Rachel has printed RAID bumper stickers and T-shirts, and she keeps the fax machine humming at the county's Department of Land Use, sending a steady stream of messages from Fourmile Canyon, including reports from RAID's constant monitoring of Selby's building site. "7 AM Monday, Sept. 15," reads a recent hand-lettered correspondence. "Machinery working on Selby land. Is stop work order lifted already? Please let RAID know."

Says one longtime Boulder County official who asks to remain anonymous: "Naomi Rachel is the best-organized activist I've ever seen in my life."

Perhaps the best example of that involved Selby's plan for his meditation center, which he'd begun referring to as the Boulder Contemplative Church. When Rachel made a perfunctory check of the title at the Colorado Secretary of State's office, however, she found that Selby hadn't registered it yet. So she did: RAID now owns the rights to the name of Selby's proposed retreat.

While Rachel insists that the fight against development in the canyon "is about environmental impact--it's always been about impact," she doesn't shy away from questioning her opponent's personal life, including the legitimacy of Selby's religious conversion. "Buddhists I've known in the past have supported what I support," she says. "They believe that what goes around comes around. Mr. Selby doesn't. I wouldn't want to be Binx Selby in this life. But I sure wouldn't want to be him in the next life."

What really grates on Rachel, though, is when Selby describes himself as someone who cares about the environment. "The spiritual part is smoke and mirrors to get what he wants," she says. "But the point that bothers me most is that he calls himself an environmentalist. There is an environmental aspect to Buddhism, that plants and animals have as many rights as people, which Mr. Selby ignores. You can't build a house that takes as much material as entire villages in Africa and claim you're an environmentalist, or environmentally or spiritually motivated.

"In an ideal world," Rachel concludes, "he would tear down the house and reclaim the land."

Betty Gibbs reaches into a space behind the computer in her cluttered, book-lined home office and pulls out a book she has hidden there, Eco-Defense: A Field Guide to Monkey-Wrenching. Edited by the founder of Earth First!, the book is littered with yellow Post-It notes that Gibbs has stuck on familiar passages. "Everything that RAID has done is right here," she says. "I bought this to understand them."

Although no one has ever been charged with committing crimes on Selby's property, Selby says that's only because nobody has been caught. He claims that his new house has been defaced with graffiti, his survey stakes have been removed, a hydraulic hose on a heavy crane has been cut, and he's received death threats over the telephone. The lock to the gate blocking his driveway has been picked numerous times, and he says he fights a constant battle against stalkers and trespassers.

"When Binx started talking about Sierra Village, these people just came out of the woodwork," Gibbs says. "To me, they're radicals. I think their tactic is hate: 'If we can define an enemy to hate, we can suck anybody in.' My fear is that when these people run out of legal things to do, they'll start doing illegal, dangerous things."

Marcy Welk, a RAID officer and close friend of Rachel's, responds that such tactics aren't RAID's style, adding that any covert actions taken against Selby are a mystery to her--if such actions occurred at all. "RAID has absolutely nothing to do with that sort of thing," she adds. "We have nothing to gain by it, we know nothing about it, and frankly, we don't believe it. Selby always alleges vandalism with a veiled insinuation that it was RAID. I think it's simply an attempt to position himself as downtrodden."

Greg Wokasch would disagree. He moved to Fourmile Canyon last year--and left last month. "My wife had lived here earlier for fourteen years, and after we got married we thought that Boulder would be a great place to live," he says. "You know, peace and harmony in the mountains. Well, not with these people."

The trouble started when Wokasch began building his house. Even though he had all the proper permits, the construction apparently set off RAID's anti-development alarms. "Some of these people would just watch me on an hour-by-hour basis," he recalls. "Eventually, we got trash thrown in our yard, survey stakes pulled up, trees felled. I had people tell me, 'You'll never live in this house.' We called sheriff's deputies up there eight times, telling these people to stay away from our house. It was just one thing after another.

"Then, this summer, I went out to my truck one morning and saw that a rock had been thrown through the window. And I just thought to myself, I travel on business a lot; if someone wants to go on a rampage while I'm gone, there's nothing I could do. One of these days someone is going to get hurt, and I'm not going to be there for that."

So Wokasch and his wife packed up and returned to Wisconsin. "The whole thing is shocking," he says. "I never thought that living up in that nice little canyon that you would encounter something like this. It's like a hate club."

And Wokasch's problems aren't over yet. He's tried to sell the house, but so far there have been no takers (mainly, he says, because he tells potential buyers about his neighbors' harassment). "This has cost me so much in legal fees that I could've put a kid through college," he says. "It's still costing me money, and I'm not even there anymore." (Welk says that while RAID itself has no official position on Wokasch's house--which she calls the "root canal"--several members have "aggressively" opposed its construction.)

The Wokasches aren't the only casualties of the bad feelings that hang like a cloud over the canyon. As Selby's development plans played out, Matosky and his wife found themselves on opposite sides.

"My feeling was, I don't agree with Binx building Sierra Village or the church," Matosky says. "But the guy's got 300 acres. Give him a break; he has every right to try to develop his land. But my wife became totally hateful of Binx. I finally told her, 'No more--we will not discuss this in our house; it's become too divisive.'"

The off-limits strategy didn't work. On July 15 Matosky's wife and three children left--with the assistance of several RAID members, he says. "She was gone. The kids were gone. The dog was gone."

"This has totally affected my personal life," he adds. "I used to be the guy in the neighborhood that anybody could go to. Now I'm not even welcome up there. The neighborhood has become totally paranoid. It's lost its character. This is hate. It's hate."

By now the Fourmile dispute has spread far beyond the secluded canyon. In intense Internet chatroom discussions and in dozens of letters to the local papers, county residents have taken sides. Boulder planners say they literally have had to work overtime to handle the Selby/RAID controversy in addition to their regular workload.

Earlier this year, aware of how politicized the dispute had become, Land Use director Billingsly took the highly unusual step of hiring a private independent consultant to evaluate Selby's church proposal. (The study, which Billingsly says cost Boulder County "$3,000 or $4,000," concluded that Selby's application was incomplete and recommended dozens of changes before it could be approved.)

Naturally, the fight has also spilled over into the county's courtrooms. In March county planners recommended giving Selby permission to build his church--but only contingent on numerous conditions, including moving the entire structure to another location, changing the color of the roof, and Selby reading up on the behavior of mountain lions and black bears. Unsatisfied, RAID and a second group of citizens opposed to the church filed separate lawsuits against Selby and Boulder County, claiming that planners had illegally allowed the project to proceed without subjecting it to a stricter, more detailed review process.

Then, after county commissioners put the whole project on hold in September, Selby struck back, filing his own lawsuit against the county. In it, he charges that by erecting so many hurdles to his church, Boulder officials interfered with his First Amendment right to freedom of religion and also devalued his land so much as to make it nearly worthless.

Danish says the flurry of legal actions will at least accomplish one thing. "A part of me says, 'Yes! Get everyone under oath, and we can at least find out who's telling the truth,'" he says. "I've never seen a question that's been more difficult to sort out factually."

Yet the pending lawsuits have set up a legal Rube Goldberg machine that threatens perpetual court action into the future. When commissioners tabled the church plan, RAID's lawsuit also went into limbo. But if Selby wins his case, forcing the county to permit him to build the church, the RAID lawsuit will kick back in.

Selby says he has pretty much decided to build his church elsewhere, most likely in Arizona. But with "several hundred thousand dollars" already spent on legal fees, he adds that he is prepared to see the legal fight through on principle. "In certain ways, I'm not real enthusiastic" about courtroom battles, he says. "But I have enough money to fight it to the end."

Providing legal ammunition for both sides is Boulder County, whose early land-use decisions contributed to the confusion over Selby's projects. In 1993, for instance, a county engineer gave Selby permission to build a private driveway to his property. However, county planners recently decided they didn't really mean to give their approval for an entire road--that Selby actually needed to go through a second application for the upper part of the driveway that went to his house. Responding to a RAID complaint, they also discovered that in the process of building the road three years ago, Selby had excavated more dirt than allowed by law. Now Selby, planners and RAID are arguing over whether Selby must fill in part of the already-built road.

"It's been like a Kafka novel," Selby complains. "The road had been approved, got all the permits, inspected. Suddenly they come back retroactively and say, 'You didn't get a permit for a road all the way to your house.' It was like coming back and saying, 'Yes, you received permits to build your house--but only for three walls.'"

County officials admit that Selby's projects have been a learning experience. "If we knew then what we know now, Binx's home definitely would not have been approved," admits one planner, adding that it's probably too large for the site. According to Billingsly, the house also is more visible than would be permitted today. "We are stricter now than we used to be," he says.

The county muddled things further when it also decided to modify zoning laws in the middle of Selby's application to build his church. When Selby started the process, existing land-use rules permitted churches on his property without stringent review. Beginning last year, however, and partially as a result of the uproar over Selby's plans, churches and other "institutional" uses must go through strict county review.

Former neighbor Matosky says he was not in favor of either Sierra Village or a Buddhist church in Fourmile Canyon. He also thinks Selby contributed to his own problems. "Binx doesn't follow procedures very well, and he knows that," Matosky says. ("Sometimes, with these older developers who have been here for a while, we have to re-educate them," notes a planner. "They don't always understand things aren't done the way they used to be.")

But Matosky also sympathizes with Selby. "Boulder is great at handing out parking tickets and handling drunk kids on the Hill," he says. "But when it comes to JonBenet or Binx Selby--the really tough issues--they're amateurs. They're used to dealing with things on an emotional level, and not the facts."

Whoever is to blame, Danish says the unhappy result will be lasting scars not only for residents of Fourmile Canyon, but for all of Boulder. "At the end of the day you've got to ask yourself: What do we have left?" he says. "There'll be a house up there, we know that. And there will be a neighborhood with lots and lots of bad feelings.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >