A Colorado eminent domain case in Breckenridge is now over, and it left Ceil and Andy Barrie feeling that fighting the government is a futile endeavor.
The controversial property rights case, which Off The Grid News has covered, ended in the Barries agreeing to sell the cabin and their secluded backcountry land for $115,000. According to Ceil Barrie, the voluntary settlement amount, entered into after court-ordered mediation, only covers the legal expenses involved with fighting the eminent domain seizure and some small land value, Fox News reported.
The Barrie eminent domain case involved a 10-acre parcel of private land surrounded by the White River National Forest. A rustic cabin, an outhouse, and a non-functioning and shuttered 1800s era gold mine were situated on the land the local government wanted to seize for “open space.”
The government became heavily involved in the daily lives of the Colorado couple once officials discovered they had been using a utility vehicle, which came with the property, to reach their land. Andy and Ceil Barrie used an old mining road Summit County did not even realize existed to travel via the ATV.
After Summit County officials asked to purchase the land and had their request refused by the owners, proceedings to condemn the property and to seize it for eminent domain began.
“People in this community are very intent on preserving the back country,” Summit County Attorney Jeff Huntley told the Associated Press.
The Barries contended throughout the legal battle that they have a legal right of way to the property, and can therefore use off-road vehicle to reach the cabin, just as the previous owners had. Summit County and the US Forest Service officials deny that assertion.
The property is 1.2 miles from the nearest road the county recognizes.
Last fall county officials penned a statement which said that “public motorized access” to the cabin and the property threatened the habitat of the alpine tundra lynx. The lynx is on the endangered species list. Local leaders voted to seize the Barrie property via eminent domain.
Legal precedent was not on the side of the Colorado couple. The state Supreme Court ruled that a similar open space seizure of private property near Telluride was constitutional in 2005.
Said Ceil Barrie:
This is ridiculous, we can never win and our money is not unlimited. I have two kids in college this year. To me, what just came out of it is, you can’t fight the government. I feel like I can’t trust my government.
She said the judge told them: “You’re fighting Summit County, in the Summit County Courthouse with a Summit County jury and a Summit County judge that has to be re-elected by Summit County voters in November, you’re not going to win”
A statement released by Summit County officials said the settlement will “halt various commercial activities” on the land in question. Andy raked up fallen pine cones for a Christmas wreath business and used a cart to transport them back to his home in a subdivision below the property to assemble for sale.
What do you think about the county’s actions? Let us know in the comments below.