A group of Black Forest residents opposed to a proposed housing development are accusing the builder of trying to silence them with the threat of hefty legal bills.

The residents filed a lawsuit against the developers and El Paso County in the spring after county commissioners approved a zoning change needed for the 212-unit development, north of Poco Road off Vollmer Road. The group has argued that the community doesn't fit in with the county’s long-term planning documents, would ruin the rural character of the area and would strain the area's limited water supply.

Denver-based First Amendment Lawyer Steve Zansberg said that the developers' claims related to the Black Forest project bear all the earmarks of a SLAPP.

"By seeking monetary damages, personally, against the homeowners who have opposed the project, the developers send a clear signal to others in the community who might contemplate participating in the governmental decision-making process — 'proceed at your own personal risk,'" Zansberg, a partner at Ballard Spahr, said in an email.

Read the full article here. Subscription may be required.