Forest Service, Lenado homeowner make inroads
The U.S. Forest Service and a Lenado homeowner have hatched an agreement in a road dispute that spilled into federal court.
Court documents show that Eaden Shantay, owner of a home at 60 Larkspur Mountain Road in Pitkin County, and the Forest Service reached a settlement last month.
The upshot of the agreement is that the Forest Service will allow Shantay to use an easement over federal land to access the private driveway to his home, Scott Fitzwilliams, supervisor of the White River National Forest, said Wednesday.
Shantay sued the Forest Service in December in U.S. District Court in Denver. His lawsuit alleged the agency had reneged on a 1998 agreement allowing for an easement over a driveway slicing through roughly 300 feet of federal land.
Shantay built a home on the property in 2008 after buying it from Jack Hoge in 2002 for $975,000, property records show.
His suit said when Hoge conveyed 10 acres of property in Gunnison County to the Forest Service in 1998, the agency agreed to give him the easement. But when Shantay learned the private road easement hadn’t been documented by the Forest Service, he submitted an application for an easement with the service in 2012.
The Forest Service denied Shantay’s application, characterizing the 1998 agreement as an “offer” or “letter,” the suit contended.
The Forest Service changed its position during the litigation, Fitzwilliams said.
“We give easements for a lot of driveways around here,” he said. “But I was worried that if I gave him an easement, there wouldn’t be enough space to park for both private users and outfitters to reserve that space. We have that space for the public to enjoy that part of the forest.”
Fitzwilliams said he and his staff “literally went out there and measured and surveyed, and we were able to say, ‘Hey, we can do this.’”
Shantay, who runs a yoga studio and tea room in Carbondale with his wife, offered a statement about the settlement. “We have dismissed the suit based on the Forest Service providing access to my property under terms that satisfy their concerns,” he said. “There is no longer an access issue to my property in Lenado.”
No money exchanged hands as part of the settlement, Fitzwilliams said. An order of dismissal, signed May 20 by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn, states that both parties will pay their attorneys fees and costs.
In December, Shantay’s attorney, Zeke Williams of Denver, told The Aspen Times the home was not Shantay’s primary residence.
The home currently is listed for sale with an asking price of $2.95 million, according to real estate marketing materials.
“Located on 6 acres, this opportunity is an off-the-grid escape from life’s hectic pace with White River National Forest and all of its recreational opportunities out your back door,” according to an online advertisement for the property.
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Pitkin County administrators are proposing a more than $142 million budget for 2020, which is about $6 million less than this year because of fewer construction projects and capital improvements.