Lawsuit over Gypsum’s Cotton Ranch settled
GYPSUM, Colorado “-It took four years for Vince Cook and Tim Garton’s Cotton Ranch lawsuit to get to trial in Eagle County District Court, but after only two days in the courtroom, the feuding partners agreed to a settlement.
The settlement decision was signed Wednesday and includes a list of 17 stipulations regarding debt, assets and actions for the developers of Gypsum’s Cotton Ranch subdivision and golf club.
As part of the settlement, Tim and Mara Garton agreed to resign from Cotton Ranch Company and their management firm, MTG Development, resigned as manager of the Cotton Ranch Company. The deal also stipulates who will be responsible for debts incurred by the project and who will receive participating interest in the proceeds of the Cotton Ranch Metropolitan District bonds. The settlement also assigns assets to each of the partners.
Both the Gartons and the Cooks will receive lifetime honorary membership interest in the Cotton Ranch Gold Club and each side will bear its own costs and attorneys fees.
“I am quite pleased,” Garton said. “In the way that it came down, I got most of the assets.”
Cook could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The three-page settlement deal is a sharp contrast to the two-inch thick case file that was compiled since the lawsuit was originally filed back in 2005. The complex case included lengthy financial reports, audits and expert testimony with Cook and Garton lobbing charges and counter-filing over the four-year case history.
Although the original partners’ lawsuit has been settled, the future of Cotton Ranch remains unresolved. Financial issues regarding the Cotton Ranch Golf Club climaxed early this year when Judge Fred Gannett appointed a receiver to oversee the day-to-day operations.
Since February, M. Neal Eckard of Indiana-based Summit Asset Management has been the court-appointed receiver for Cotton Ranch. Eckard was appointed when PMC Commercial Trust, the lender for the golf club, requested Judge Gannett name a receiver to protect the company’s assets as it proceeded with foreclosure actions.
Garton has conceded that his management company ” MTG Development LLC ” is in default to its lender. According to PMC Commercial Trust, MTG failed to make its October, November and December 2008 payments as well at its January and February 2009 payments. Additionally the company says that insurance and utility payments had not been made and that money has not be escrowed for taxes.
At the time of the receivership hearing, PMC representatives said they were concerned the property was not being run and maintained, and that was the motivation to name a receiver.
While the golf club’s future wasn’t decided this week, the settlement will likely impact what happens at the development.
The town of Gypsum has presented a purchase offer for the golf course, which would transform the operation from a semi-private course to a municipal operation. Details of the offer have not yet been made public, but it is unlikely that the town would offer more than the approximately $2 million owed to the bank. There are several issues tied to private memberships at the club that would have to be resolved if the town were to buy the facility.