On Thursday, Sept. 9, the Town of Mountain Village filed a lawsuit in the San Miguel County District Court against Brown Dog Properties, LLC (“Brown Dog”) and its members Frank and Ruth Hensen, which owns Lot 615 1CR.
In the lawsuit, the Town is requesting a court order confirming the Town’s easement rights for the Meadows Trail as it crosses property owned by Brown Dog. Brown Dog and the Hensens have asserted that the Town and the public have no easement and no right to use the trail across their property. The Town disagrees and will pursue claims to confirm easement rights for the trail on several legal grounds including a claim for a “prescriptive easement” based on more than 18 years of continuous use by the Town and the public.
After Brown Dog and the Hensens threatened publicly and privately to close or block the trail, the town closed it temporarily for public safety effective Sept. 1, 2021.
On Friday, September 10, Brown Dog and the Hensens agreed to enter into a Stipulated Motion pursuant to which the Hensens will not interfere with use of the trail until the litigation has concluded. As such, the Meadows Trail is now open to the public.
The Hensons, in a recent letter to the editor published in the Daily Planet, allege Mountain village officials have been “unwilling” to move the trail to allow for development.
“This connecting artery has been discussed and negotiated for the past three years with town staff, but they are unwilling to put the trail in the appropriate easements to allow the development of the residential lots it crosses,” read the Henson’s Aug. 31 letter. “In order to do this the trail users will have to move onto the asphalt for less than 200 feet.
“As a result of the negotiation impasse, the developers see no other option than to close the trail. It’s unfortunate that neither the Mountain Village Town Council or the town staff will fully investigate the facts of this matter and address the issues with fairness until the trail is closed and they hear about it from you, the users, but I suspect that is how this will turn out.”
thee lot’s former owner, Ed Kaupus, also weighed in with a letter to the editor published Sept. 7.
“The Town of Mountain Village built a bridge across my property at that time without my authorization,” Kaupus wrote. “The bridge was built without permit or permission. The bridge is inherently dangerous, and the liability for any injury is carried by the property owner.
“Private property signs were posted and removed numerous times by trespassers crossing my property. There is no recreational trail easement across the property shown in any legal plats or documents at that location. Any agreements should be between TMV and current property owner for continuation of the Meadows Trail.”
The Meadows Trail runs through Lot 615-1CR and has been a popular connection between Mountain Village, Lawson Hill and Telluride for commuters and recreational enthusiasts for over two decades.
At its regular July meeting, Mountain Village Town Council reviewed a minor subdivision request from Brown Dog to vacate a general easement and relocate the Meadows Trail out of the town’s easement onto the Town’s unimproved right of way, and Town Council unanimously voted to table the item until the Meadows Trail issue was adequately addressed by the applicant.
In response to Brown Dog’s threat to close the Meadows Trail, Town Council held an emergency meeting on Sept. 4,and directed the town’s legal counsel to file a lawsuit in order to confirm the Town’s easement rights and permit the Town to safely reopen the trail.
The Town will continue to share information with the public on the status of both the Meadows Trail and the lawsuit as it becomes available.
For a map of the closure and more information, please visitbit.ly/meadowstrailclosure