Marshall Fire survivors set to rebuild clash with HOA over style


Seth and Nancy Goldman want to rebuild their dream home, but their plans are delayed.

LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Spring flowers offer the only familiar feeling on a dirt lot that no longer resembles home for Seth and Nancy Goldman.

“Some lilacs are coming up,” Seth Goldman said, gesturing to what used to be the backyard of their home of 23 years in Louisville.

“Our home was in that vicinity,” Nancy Goldman pointed. “And there was a long driveway that came out this way.”

“We’re at close to the front door, sort of in the scheme of things,” Seth added.

The Goldmans don’t visit the site of their home on St. Andrews Lane often. It’s too painful.

“It’s hard, yeah,” Nancy said. “It makes me sad and a little bit of a trauma response because when we fled the house, the fire was right across the street.”

Nancy, Seth and two of their adult children piled into a car with their two German Shepherds and three cats to escape the Marshall Fire on Dec. 30, 2021.

“It was a bad day,” Seth said bluntly. “Pretty traumatic. Yeah.”

After losing their house, Seth was the first to suggest rebuilding. Nancy said she was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, but supported the idea.

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Neither of them expected to hit a snag with their homeowners association (HOA).

“They told us they would not stand in anyone’s way,” Nancy explained. “There would not be obstacles, and that all sounded really good because the city, the insurance — everyone else has obstacles.”

The Goldmans hired an architect to draw up plans for their dream home, a midcentury modern house with a low-pitched roof.

“The house is different, you know,” Seth said. “It’s a pure, midcentury modern with the midcentury slope lines.”

The Goldmans said they knew, and their architect knew, the design didn’t exactly meet what they interpreted as optional guidelines from their HOA. They submitted design plans, with the HOA denied because of the proposed pitch of the roof.

“It was just an email that said, ‘Declined,’” Seth said. “‘Pitch is supposed to be 3:12. Yours is 2:12. Declined.’”

An attorney for the Coal Creek Ranch Master Association, Inc. explained in a written response to 9NEWS that the HOA consulted with many local builders and architects before the association’s architectural committee modified design guidelines. The Goldmans’ architect was part of the group that provided feedback.

“We talked to the architects, obviously, and said, ‘What happened here?’” Seth said. “And they said, ‘Well, we were under the impression there was — that was a guideline and there was flex room.’”

The HOA shared design guidelines adopted by the architectural committee with the whole community before the Goldmans submitted their plans, the attorney said.

“The Association is sympathetic to [the Goldmans’] predicament,” wrote the attorney for the HOA. “The Association implemented updated design guidelines to provide minimum standards to help streamline the rebuilding application process.”

Despite sympathizing with the Goldmans, the HOA isn’t budging an inch. That doesn’t surprise Stan Hrincevich, president of Colorado HOA Forum.

Hrincevich advocates for homeowners who live in HOAs, and he already knows how the Goldmans’ rebuilding battle will likely end.

“There is an emotional side to this and a legal side,” Hrincevich said. “I will tell you from years of experience, the legal sides wins.”

Hrincevich said the Goldmans’ situation in Louisville exemplifies the authority and power of an HOA board.

“It’s a losing battle,” he said. “It’s not taking sides one way or the other. It’s seems to be pretty black and white. Emotional? Yes, but I don’t think we can govern based on emotions.”

Emotion is all the Goldmans have left on St. Andrews Lane.

“I don’t even know why they care about the pitch of our roof,” Nancy said.

The Goldmans’ reality is still a dirt lot, but they still dream of a new home.

“We just want to get home,” Seth said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The HOA allowed the Goldmans to appeal the denial of their design plans. On Tuesday afternoon, Seth and Nancy Goldman spoke to the board over Zoom, but no final decision was made on the design of their house.

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