Thursday, November 15, 2018
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Court fines land owner near Waunita Hot Springs

Contempt of court for ignoring county permit process

by Mark Reaman

A Gunnison County property owner with land near Waunita Hot Springs has been found in contempt of court by Gunnison District Court and fined $25,000.

The issue in question began in 2009 when a property known as the Mile 200 Property, owned by Scott Wagner, could be accessed only by roads over U.S. Forest Service land and a portion of land owned by the Waunita Hot Springs Ranch.

Between 2009 and 2013 all of the parties litigated a number of alleged Gunnison County land use code violations dealing with uses and activities on the Mile 200 Property and changes to the access road made by Wagner, even on property that was not his.

Ultimately, despite a court order and settlement between the county, Wagner and Waunita Hot Springs Ranch, Wagner conducted major roadwork with heavy equipment that was prohibited without the proper permits.

District Court Judge D. Cory Jackson ruled February 15 that Wagner was “familiar with the process, but simply has not engaged in it…. The Court also finds and concludes that the Defendant’s actions are offensive to the authority and dignity of the Court. The public relies on the adoption of stipulations as court orders for the very purpose of ensuring their enforceability. Mr. Wagner has flagrantly disobeyed these orders.”

The court ruled that Wagner was prohibited from using that particular road access except in case of emergencies until proper permits are obtained. The court also imposed a $25,000 fine. Wagner has until later this week to respond to the ruling.

Gunnison County attorney David Baumgarten commented that the action indicates the county will take enforcement action when someone purposefully ignores the county regulations.

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