Land law leads to legal fight in Carbondale |

Land law leads to legal fight in Carbondale

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Carbondale Corporation is inching closer to full ownership of the ancient subdivision Te Ke Ki near Carbondale.

Carbondale Corporation has recently filed lawsuits with the 9th Judicial District Court against the remaining Te Ke Ki lot owners seeking “quiet title” to the remaining lots in the subdivision, which is adjacent to the ranch property. The Carbondale Corporation has already obtained deeds to over 92 percent of the 345 lots and is seeking ownership of the remaining to keep the land for agricultural use, according to a statement provided by attorney Herb Klein of Klein, Cote and Edwards LLC in Aspen.

However, a few of the landowners, including Colorado Representative from District 40 Debbie Stafford, do not want to give in just yet.

“I’m just watching to see what the outcome is,” Stafford said. “They’ve already acquired most of the land with arrangements that have been all over the map.”

For over 20 years, Carbondale Corporation’s Big 4 Ranch has included the subdivision within its fences and used the property for agricultural purposes, the statement read. Colorado Law entitles Carbondale Corporation to ownership of the remaining lots through what is known as adverse possession, where a person who has used a parcel of land for more than 18 years has ownership rights to it.

The recently-filed lawsuits are based on this law and seek to have the court confirm Carbondale Corporation’s ownership of the remaining lots. These suits are intended to finalize confirmation of it’s ownership of the remaining lots.

Stafford called the whole thing an “unfortunate situation,” and still has interest in keeping her land.

“I would hold onto it if it looks like there is a benefit,” Stafford said. “At the same time I am not interested in someone beating me up for the assessed value of the property.”

The assessed value of Stafford’s property is $4,050.

Stafford claimed that she had a court date of July 17, but that she had asked for a later date due to a scheduled trip to Alaska.

Originally, Te Ke Ki was platted in 1969 and 1970. According to Klein, lots were sold to a number of individuals by the original developer, Glenco of Aspen Inc. However, no infrastructure, roads, utilities or access was ever developed for the subdivision.

According to a Grand Junction Sentinel article from 1980, provided by Klein, purchasers of the property were left high and dry when the developer went broke.

“The lots, many bought in the late 1960s by middle-class Denver residents, were part of a mountain land promotion by an entrepreneur who went broke, vanished, and left the unwitting buyers holding a bagful of problems,” the article read.

The article also stated that landowners haven’t had access to the land since 1975 when the Rio Grande Railroad closed a temporary easement. The easement was the only public access to the land, the other access road went across the Big 4 ranch.

Carbondale Corporation’s interest in obtaining the property is due to the fact that it’s used the land for more than two decades as ranch land and has no other viable economic use other than as such.

Several years ago, another old-undeveloped subdivision called Aspen Crystal River Estates, which was also adjacent to the Big 4 Ranch was acquired by an affiliate of Carbondale Corporation. That land remains for agriculture use.

Klein had no comment on when he expected the suit to be finalized.

Coming to terms with the unavoidable outcome, Stafford expressed mixed feelings.

“It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances for people who had dreams of passing (the land) on,” she said. “You’ve got a corporation coming in whose focus is on the bigger picture. That really burst the bubble of the average American thinking they can own a little piece of land.”

Stafford said that she believes that the Carbondale Corporation is seeking ownership of the property with plans of development. The Garfield County Planning and Zoning office said that there has been no applications for development of anything regarding the property filed with the office as of July 15.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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