A proposal to bring a new hotel to Greenwood Village has ended with the idea getting nixed and a local man facing 10 felony charges.
Baywood Hotels, based in San Antonio, applied to build a new Residence Inn by Marriott on what is now a parking lot at 5580 S. Park Place in Greenwood Village. As part of that application, the planning commission was provided dozens of documents, including environmental and architectural designs. A last-minute addition, included three pages of signatures designating residents in support of the project.
"It's due diligence, I was just doing my homework and just happened to catch a few of those names that seemed to be out of place," said Greenwood Village Planning Commissioner Libby Barnacle.
As we reported in December, Barnacle caught two signatures on the list that she recognized as residents who were vocally opposed to the project. At the meeting, she was able to question the public relations firm that provided the signatures.
"So then, you have no information as to explain line 17, Jeff Kahn, on Crestline Avenue, signing this piece of paper, when in fact we are in receipt of a letter from him adamantly opposing the project (on) February 13, this year," said asked.
Kahn and another resident, Anthony Spafford, confirmed for 9News that their signatures were forged.
"Mr. McCall, I'm sorry to interrupt you. Are you aware that your name and signature are also on this statement of support for the Marriott Residence Inn in Line 21," she asked another resident who was at the meeting to speak out against the project.
"I pride myself on knowing the community and knowing the people that I am appointed to represent," said Barnacle. "In Columbo, wasn't it 'Just one more question.'"
Close. Columbo would always crack the case after saying, "Just one more thing."
The signature collector, a man named Eric Forney, has been charged with 10 felonies, including eight counts of attempting to influence a public servant.
He did not return our phone call.
"She has an eye for detail. In fact, you could say she has an eagle eye for detail," said Mayor Ron Rakowsky.
The mayor praised the unpaid commissioner for her work.
"You have to have trust in government, and when people start turning in phony signatures, that destroys the trust," said Rakowsky. "In this case, I think it's the reverse. I think trust has been heightened because of efforts that she basically executed on her own."
As for the signature collector, it turns out he did go door-to-door.
"I actually had the person come to my door and knock on my door," said Rakowsky.
The mayor did not sign the petition since he might have had to make a decision on the proposal. He also said Forney did not appear to realize he was the mayor.
"The thing that's really unusual is they didn't have to submit any signatures," said Rakowsky. "This was, if you will, icing on the cake, from their perspective."
Baywood Hotels withdrew their proposal. We called the number provided on the application, and the person who answered said he would not comment on if the signature snafu was why the proposal was withdrawn. He also said they are in the process of "suing them," but hung up when we asked who "them" was in reference.
"The moral of the story is if you falsify information and you get caught, it's not going to go well," said Rakowsky.
"Hopefully, this serves a lesson to applicants in the future that we are an intelligent community and we will catch everything," said Barnacle.