County Government Uses Bogus Reason To Seize Couple's Mountain Home

| by Jonathan Wolfe

A Colorado couple is furious over their local government's efforts to seize their mountain cabin and its surrounding property.

The couple is Andy and Ceil Barrie. In 2011, the Barries visited Breckenridge, Colorado and stayed at a cozy cabin deep in the White National Forest. The Barries, surrounded by jaw-dropping peaks and picturesque forests, fell in love with the property. They contacted the cabin’s owner and bought the cabin and its 10 acre lot for $550,000. They’ve lived there ever since.

A few months after buying the property, the Barries were contacted by the U.S. National Forest Service. Representatives from the service told the Barries they couldn’t use any motorized vehicle to access their property. The organization cited concerns from both themselves and the local community about preserving the terrain and environment in White National Forest.

The Barries took issue with the service’s demand. Ever since buying the property, they’d reached their cabin by driving 1.2 miles on an old mining road. They used a modified snowmobile for the drive. The property, which lies deep in the heart of the White National Forest, would be incredibly inconvenient to live at without access to motorized transportation. They prepared a formal court challenge.

Before their challenge was heard, the Barries were told their property was being foreclosed on. The county commissioner condemned the property using an eminent domain clause typically reserved for protecting wild areas from economic development.

The Barries are fighting the ruling. They’ve even agreed to knock down the cabin if they will be allowed to keep the property.

“We just want the land,” Ceil Barrie said. “I feel like I can’t trust my government.”

Eminent domain legal expert Dane Berliner says that although it has happened before, governments usually find more reasonable ways to preserve open space than simply seizing an owner’s land.

“It’s not that you can’t do it, but they don’t do it much,” she said. “There’s typically other ways of doing open space than just taking land.”

Sources: Mail Online, Colorado News Day