Elk Creek Campground in receivership, county permit revocation proceedings postponed to mid-March
The Elk Creek Campground near New Castle may end up reverting to a previous owner and is now in receivership after several weeks of inaction to address Garfield County permit violations.
County commissioners on Monday, after being made aware of the latest development, postponed code enforcement action, including a possible lawsuit, in hopes that at least some of the violations can be addressed in the next two weeks.
Where that leaves the dozen or so long-term tenants of the campground, who are there illegally this winter, is uncertain.
Some of those residents appeared before the commissioners last week asking for a reprieve after they were asked by owner Beau Haines to vacate the premises.
The 67-space campground is permitted for seasonal RV/camper and tent camping, as well as use of the cabins on site, between May 1 to Nov. 1, states a memo from the county Community Development Department and legal staff that was before the commissioners on Monday.
Previous efforts by a former owner in 2010 to permit the campground for expanded use hinged on construction of a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)-approved wastewater treatment system.
Those conditions were not met at the time, and both the county and CDPHE have noted ongoing concerns regarding the potential for sewage getting into the town of New Castle’s Elk Creek water source.
More recently, county code enforcement received complaints from neighboring residents about camping being allowed illegally through the winter months.
In a formal Notice of Violation issued to Haines and Compass Mountain Resorts LLC on Dec. 21, 2021 — obtained by the Post Independent through an open records request — the county advised that all campers/RVs were to be removed and the cabins vacated.
Prior to that, Haines, in a Nov. 29, 2021, email also obtained through the records request, asked for a meeting with county officials “to discuss the current acceptable land use for Elk Creek Campground,” indicating that “I must have misunderstood what was written. I would like to discuss what is happening currently and our future plans in hopes that we can get on the same page.”
No further correspondence between the county and Haines occurred before or after the Notice of Violation was issued.
Residents who spoke before the commissioners last week said they were misled to believe they were allowed to stay through the winter months. They also said it would be hard for them to relocate with such short notice, and given the lack of available campground spaces this time of year.
Area Realtor Sean de Moraes appeared before the commissioners Monday to say that he had been appointed receiver in the foreclosure action and is responsible for preserving the assets and address any permit violations.
“There are people living out there this winter,” de Moraes said, acknowledging the apparent violation. “It’s my position to figure everything out and preserve the property.”
Whether that’s under the prior LLC owner to which the property reverted, or for future sale, is yet to be determined.
The existing land-use permits allowing for even just a seasonal campground are relevant to the property’s value and are worth maintaining, de Moraes said.
He said he has also contacted the CDPHE and is working to have a contractor inspect the wastewater system.
Commissioners agreed to postpone any code enforcement action for now, but want to see some progress in remedying the issues by March 14 when de Moraes is due back before the board.
“We need to put an end to the violations, or correct them,” Commission Chairman John Martin said. Otherwise, “the assets will not be in an (approved) campground but a new land-use application.”
In the meantime, de Moraes was advised to meet with representatives from county community development and legal staff to address what needs to be done to remedy the situation.
“There are millions of dollars in property value at stake here, so there is a heavy hand on the receiver to get this taken care of,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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