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Homeowners denied summary judgment in open space case

Lawsuit will continue

By Mark Reaman

Gunnison District Court judge Steven Patrick this week turned down a request for a summary judgment by The Heights subdivision homeowners, R and S Journeys End LLC, in their lawsuit against the town of Crested Butte.

The dispute is centered on open space essentially comprised of the steep hill that lies between the top of the Bench near Big Mine Park and the road south of the Warming House.

Property owners living above Big Mine Park on the Bench are suing the town of Crested Butte in Gunnison District Court for what they believe is a wrongful attempt by the town of Crested Butte to take the hillside open space. That area presents an avalanche danger in the winter and in the past the town has worked with the homeowners association to complete mitigation work on the property.

Last winter the town negotiated with Trapper’s Crossing developer Ron Spence and was given a quitclaim deed for the open space property and another small parcel near the Nordic Center’s cat barn in early January. The homeowners believe it is clear from the original 1991 plat that they own the open space property.

The homeowners asked Patrick in June to issue a summary judgment granting them the property. On Monday, he issued a court order rejecting that request.

Patrick basically indicated that recent court decisions by the Colorado Supreme Court could be used to conclude that the open space was not automatically part of the 12 homeowners’ lots in the subdivision.

“Given this recent conclusion by the Colorado Supreme Court in a case in which there had been a trial, and based on the Town’s argument regarding the opportunity to present evidence outside the purported conveyance documents when the language is ambiguous… that Plaintiffs motion is denied,” wrote Patrick.

Patrick scheduled a case court conference with both parties for August 9 but the town will ask to have the date changed due to a conflict.

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