Krabloonik sues town of Snowmass over eviction |

Krabloonik sues town of Snowmass over eviction

The sign for Krabloonik as seen on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Snowmass Village.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The owners of Krabloonik Dog Sledding aren’t rolling overfor the town of Snowmass Village’s eviction demands.

Citing pressure on town leaders from “out-of-town activists (including people from out of the country) who believe dog-sledding is inherently evil and Krabloonik should be shut down,” a lawsuit is seeking a court order that would effectively thwart the town’s push to evict the business. The suit was filed Dec. 2 in Pitkin County District by lawyer John Mallonee on behalf of Krabloonik Inc. The town was served with the complaint Tuesday, according to Town Manager Clint Kinney.

The suit comes amid a standoff between the town and Krabloonik over the dog-sledding operation side of the business, which also includes a restaurant and is located at 4250 Divide Road near the Campground area of Snowmass ski area. As the property’s landlord, the town is trying to evict Krabloonik, which has refused to leave since it was put on notice in the fall that it was in default of its lease.

The town the first week of October informed Krabloonik owners Gina and DannyPhillips they had to leave the site by that month’s end because they had breached their lease agreement regarding the treatment of the operation’s sled dogs. The town cited specifically Krabloonik’s alleged failure to meet the conditions of the best-practices plan concerning treatment of the dogs, which is included in their lease agreement.

An outside best-practices review committee, started in 2015, made policies that Krabloonik was to follow in order to comply with its lease, town officials have said. An update report from the committee to the town in June said Krabloonik wasn’t following the best practices regarding dogs’ leash time and record-keeping on the dogs. In September, the Town Council instructed the town attorney to put the Phillips on notice they had defaulted on their lease and would have to leave premises.

The lawsuit countered that the town deprived the Phillips of due process by not giving them a chance to review the committee’s report.

“Krabloonik has not been presented with this information upon which Town Council has been basing its decisions, has not had the opportunity to confront its accusers, and has been deprived of a meaningful opportunity to be heard about accusations of mistreatment of the dogs,” the suit said.

The lease agreement’s inclusion of a best-practices plan is “vague, ambiguous, subjective,” said the suit. The suit also argued that Krabloonik’s adherence to the best-practices plan was not a condition of the lease, the town had no designated authority to determine whether Krabloonik was in compliance with the lease, the town is motivated to evict the business because another party is interested in the property, and the town is capitulating to the demands of activists.

The Phillips bought the operation in December 2014 and currently have a lease with the town running from June 1, 2015, through Sept. 25, 2026. The agreement also gives the Phillips the option to renew the lease up to three times in 10-year increments, and it includes the option to purchase one of the two lots on the property, between June 1, 2025, and Sept. 25, 2026, provided it continues to operate as dog-sledding business.

“TOSV (town of Snowmass Village) has an economic incentive to breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, being entitled to possession of the Property, and extinguishing Krabloonik’s option to purchase,” the suit said. “TOSV has received inquiries in 2022 from at least one broker of luxury real estate, with experience navigating the entire building process, about when Krabloonik’s lease will end, specifically inquiring if TOSV would sell the Property. TOSV has an emotional incentive to breach the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, having been inundated with cut and paste emails from out-of-town activists calling for TOSV to ‘break the town’s lease with Krabloonik,’ knowing the emails will only stop once Krabloonik has been run out of town.”

Kinney, the town manager, said Krabloonik was given time to come in compliance, and that it actually created the best practices it is supposed to follow.

“Krabloonik was found to be in violation of the ‘Best Practices’ for the operation of Krabloonik that are a part of their Lease. (It should be noted that the current Krabloonik owners drafted these Best Practices that are required to be abided by.),” Kinney said in an email. “Since being notified, Krabloonik has failed to cure those violations or present a plan to cure those violations within a reasonable amount of time. As a result, Krabloonik has defaulted under the Lease, and the Town has provided notice of termination of the Lease. Because Krabloonik has failed to vacate the Property as required, the Town is proceeding with legal action to evict Krabloonik.”

The lawsuit said the town deprived the Phillips of due process, the Town Council has not visited the Krabloonik premises since June 2021, and that Krabloonik created an electronic-records system at the behest of the town, which the town failed to acknowledge.

“Krabloonik has not been presented with this information upon which Town Council has been basing its decisions, has not had the opportunity to confront its accusers, and has been deprived of a meaningful opportunity to be heard about accusations of mistreatment of the dogs,” the suit said.

As a result, the town’s measures have resulted in “decreased bookings and revenue, lack of pro-active inclusion in the Snowmass Tourism marketing materials as of Sept. 7, 2022, reduced ability to hire and house employees, and the threat of loss of valuable property rights” for the Krabloonik business, the lawsuit said.

The suit asks the court to enter a declaratory judgment finding that Krabloonik did not violate the lease, that the town broke the lease, and that the Town Council cannot revoke its property rights, among other relief.

Mallonee, a lawyer with the Glenwood Springs firm Balcomb & Green, declined comment Wednesday.

For more information, read previous coverage:

Krabloonik ownership digs in their heels, plan to stay open amid dispute

Krabloonik dog sled owners on thin ice with Snowmass Village

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