In paperwork filed March 22, Michael Scott, attorney for Alison Brown, filed a complaint for Declaratory Judgment in District Court, requesting that the court provide a determination of whether two 40-acre parcels owned by Brown are separate and distinct parcels that cannot be merged without following the procedures prescribed by Colorado statute.
The complaint was filed against the Chaffee County Board of Review, Jon Roorda in his official capacity as Chaffee County planning manager, and the Chaffee County commissioners.
The complaint includes three claims for relief, including appeal of a Chaffee County Board of Review decision, appeal of a decision to deny an appeal to the Board of Review and a request for a declaratory judgment.
Brown, whose official residence is 11600 Antelope Road, Salida, has been denied a certificate of occupancy for a residence she built on that property, although it passed a Jan. 2 inspection. The county claims other land use violations related to her American foxhound kennel and the number of dogs on her properties prevent it from issuing the certificate of occupancy.
Brown said she reduced the number of dogs at her home at 11600 Antelope Road to seven by securing temporary homes for most. She moved seven dogs and a kennel to another 40-acre parcel she owns at 11555 Antelope Road. Brown contends the two parcels are legally separate.
The county, via a Feb. 7 message to Brown, said that because the two individually filed and recorded parcels in the Chaffee County Assessor’s database are owned by the same person and contiguous, they are legally one parcel. Thus, with seven dogs on each property, she is in violation of the county’s land use code.
Because of that determination, Roorda said he would not consider Brown’s temporary camping permit application to place a camper on the property. Brown says she requested it to have somewhere to sleep, since she can’t occupy the house.
On March 8, Brown received written notice from Roorda stating, “with more than seven dogs on your contiguous properties, you still fall under the definition of a kennel and need to apply for the Limited Impact Review. If you reduce the number of dogs to seven or less, the review will not be needed.”
County Attorney Jenny Davis has prepared a stipulation agreement for Brown, that if signed and notarized, would remove the county’s other claim against Brown that she is operating an outfitting facility.
Among the requirements, the document stipulates that Brown can’t use her property easement for riding horses or training her dogs, that she agrees not to perform any activities related to her role as a Master of Foxhounds in the American Foxhunting Association, nor can anyone join her on her personal hunts (on public land), including changing into hunting attire on her property.
Roorda’s March 8 written statement says if Brown signs the stipulation and removes seven more dogs from the combined 80 acres, “I would recommend issuance of the CO to our building official.”
“So, now, according to the county I can’t be a member of a club or perform the status I have attained as a Master of Foxhounds?” said Brown.
“The county code specifically refers to outfitting facilities. The declaratory judgment says the county isn’t doing what the Board of Appeals instructed them to do – inspect facilities. This is an encroachment on my civil rights – telling me I can’t ride my horses or train my dogs on my own property easement, or ask a friend to hunt with me on public land. Stables are a permitted use. Kennels are a permitted use … so what is it that I am doing?”
The county’s code on outfitting refers to properties with outfitting facilities. Brown contends that she is not an outfitting facility and has asked the county to explain what structures on her property constitute outfitting. The Planning and Zoning Dept. said it has not inspected the property to determine whether a violation of the outfitting facility of the land use code is occurring.
“I’m appalled that the county is taking their position – violating my constitutional rights and preventing me from living in my own house,” said Brown. “I am standing up for my rights and the rights of other citizens in the county.”
A Feb. 22 Board of Review session determined that the county had the authority to deny a certificate of occupancy due to land use issues that had no relationship to building safety. During that session, the Board of Review directed Community Development Director Dan Swallow to inspect Brown’s property at 11600 and issue the certificate if no land use violations were found.
Roorda’s March 7 inspection report says that it considers the two parcels as one parcel and combined the number of dogs at both 11555 and 11600 Antelope Road, which resulted in a denial of the certificate.
The complaint says that Roorda returned Brown’s temporary camping permit application and application fee without conducting an administrative review. On March 9, Brown appealed the county’s denial of her temporary camping permit application and on March 14, Roorda again rejected it.