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Five Additional Owners of the Lost Charlie Mining Claim are identified, Tri Energy May Sue for Access to Methodist Towers

The simmering public safety issue regarding the access road to the top of Methodist Mountain, allowing the Methodist/Fremont Tower Users Group access to their millions of dollars of communications equipment at the top, is a deceptively quiet agenda item on the Chaffee Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) agenda on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Towers on Methodist Mountain

It comes at the very end of a lengthy agenda, and the BoCC has listed an executive session following the presentation by Methodist/Fremont Tower Users Group, Inc. to deal with what they learn.

From the beginning (as documented by Ark Valley Voice in its July 23 story: https://arkvalleyvoice.com/critical-methodist-mountain-access-and-the-impact-on-public-safety/ ) this has been a conflict between private property rights and access to critical public safety infrastructure.

But it now turns out that the man Brian Bay, and the family that presented themselves to be the sole owners of the Lost Charlie mining claim, were not the only owner. In fact, the claim was owned by six equal owners and the other five owners had no idea what has been going on.

According to Methodist/Fremont Tower Users group Secretary Dave Novotney  the other owners “have been horrified to learn of the public safety issues posed to the county and the southwestern U.S. by that lack of access.”

Adding to their concerns; the possibility of potential lawsuits related to the lack of access. This includes a potential lawsuit from Tri Energy, one of the providers with a significant investment in communications equipment at the top of the mountain.

According to Novotney, their President Mark Young has spent the past six weeks doggedly tracking down the other five owners. “This has been Mark’s sole job for the past six weeks … He’s been able to make contact with all the owners of the property…he’s made several trips to Houston where these people are located. He’s got a signed document from them giving the Tower Users Group access to the mountaintop for the next few days.”

Novotney confirmed that there is a pending lawsuit by Tri Energy. “By law, they have a right to condemn that particular road so they can get access to it. I can confirm that there has been discussion as to whether the BoCC might join that lawsuit or not, but it doesn’t look like they are.”

Novotney confirmed that a letter has been filed with the county record that removes the Bay family from being part of this ownership group …”the guy Brian Bay who was giving everybody fits, he is the son of one of them — his dad was removed from the partnership,” he explained. “The other five — they had no idea what was going on with the Lost Charlie Ranch, the threats, the locked gate, anything. They realized quickly the number of lawsuits that could come about.”

The Tower Users Group is at the end of the Sept. 14 BoCC agenda, and plans to update the BoCC on the status of the situation, including the possibilities that might exist to gain access. Those options might include buying that land from the partnership or asking the county to create a county road through the area. “If successful, then we would do an easement to the county for the road …. and that way we have a way to get up there legally,” said Novotney.