In Red Cliff, land is lost and gained
RED CLIFF, Colorado Large orange poppies used to be planted in a garden that was recently plowed to make room for a larger playground. A woman used to plant flowers in that garden, next to her home and on the Catholic Churchs land in Red Cliff, but the town bought her land from the church about five years ago to expand its playground.Thats just one of several examples of what Red Cliff residents have been dealing with for years, said Caroline Bradford, who has lived in Red Cliff for a dozen years. Pretty much every property has a boundary dispute, she said. Thats because in Red Cliff, a poor town map and survey after survey have muddled property lines through the years, residents said. That has lead to conflicts among neighbors.Veronica Ross, of Yampa, grew up in Red Cliff and her mother once lost a few feet of her yard when her property lines were surveyed. It ended up really changing the boundaries, she said. A couple years ago, Ross uncle had to go to court over a land dispute in which a neighbor claimed to own his shed and part of his home. The neighbor had just moved in and had surveyed the properties, but her uncle won the case. Its hard because you grow up with people that youve known forever and then you go to court over things like this, she said.
In March, Red Cliff filed a lawsuit against one of its own leaders in a land dispute. The town contends it owns Board of Trustees member Scott Burgess property, according to the lawsuit, filed in Eagle County District Court. Ruth Borne, Red Cliffs town attorney, declined comment on specifics of the case, but said its property that belongs to the town. We would have proceeded against any member of the community, she said. Burgess was elected to a four-year term on the Board of Trustees April 1 and has lived in Red Cliff about two years. Burgess and his attorney, Christian Caslin, of Vail law firm Wolf & Associates, declined comment on the lawsuit. Red Cliff seeks to quiet Burgess title to the land. A person or government claims quiet title when they want to own all or part of a persons property.The town has some questionable property lines, but were working on it, said Tom Henderson, a Red Cliff Board of Trustee member. People have property disputes everywhere in Colorado from Minturn to Aspen to Grand Junction to Telluride, he said. Its not a big deal, he said.
The town should fund a new survey of Red Cliff at some point, but that would be expensive, said Eric Cregon, a Board of Trustee member.Thats something the council is trying to get done, he said.Theres a lot of people squatting on land that they dont own, he added. Some residents have avoided land disputes and even share their land with her neighbors. When Bradford moved into her home, her five neighbors had already surveyed their properties and signed an agreement.
Using one anothers property is also a part of living in small-town Red Cliff, she said. Bradfords neighbors let her put her daughters swing-set on their property because its flat. It doesnt mean I would try to claim the area where my swing-set is as my own, she said. Cregons home juts into his neighbors land by a foot. But Cregons other neighbor has a shed that extends a foot over Cregons land. He has worked all that out with his neighbors, and he suggests residents do the same without getting attorneys involved.
A larger land dispute may loom with the Ginn Development Co., which wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums, a private ski resort and a golf course between downtown Minturn and Red Cliff. Minturn town councilors annexed 4,300 acres of Ginns land into the town in February, but they also want to include into Minturn the final 1,000 acres of land owned by Ginn that border Red Cliff. Ginn wants to build employee housing on a portion of that land.Ginn is supposed to work with Red Cliff to figure out who owns what land, according to Minturn Town Councils annexation agreement with Ginn. Ginn thinks it owns some land under the green bridge on U.S. Highway 24 and across the Eagle River, but Bradford said it doesnt belong to the company.Cliff Thompson, director of communications for Ginn, did not respond to questions about Ginns land. Ginn has been good about working with Red Cliff residents whose property borders land owned by the company, Cregon said. Its been my experience that Ginn is willing to work with people, he said. Besides, Ginn does not plan to build anywhere near Red Cliff. Theres a pretty good buffer, he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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