Homesites eyed at Lenado; battle over road continues
August 10, 2012
LENADO – Two landowners have filed applications with Pitkin County to create envelopes for four large homes in Lenado, the outpost east of Woody Creek where funky old cabins dot the landscape.
The move is a backup plan for the duo, Frank Peters and Daniel Delano, who are battling to halt Lenado’s slide into a “motorsports zoo” and exploring their options. The latest development comes after settlement talks with the county and U.S. Forest Service over use of the road through their property broke off earlier this summer.
A hearing on a temporary injunction to prohibit use of Woody Creek Road for parking and snowmobile staging is scheduled for September in District Court. Meanwhile, Peters and Delano are seeking to establish “activity envelopes” on four parcels they own in the area – called Last Chance north and south, Silver Creek and Hidden Treasure. Some of the parcels also contain old cabins, none of which has historic protections to prevent demolition. The envelopes on three parcels would accommodate homes as large as 5,570 square feet, according to the applications; on the Silver Creek lot, a home as large as 3,000 square feet plus a 500-square-foot garage is permitted under the terms of a 1993 settlement agreement, the application for that property notes.
The applications constitute an effort at estate planning and making the parcels more marketable in the event they decide to sell their holdings in Lenado, Peters and Delano said Thursday. They’ve been embroiled in a lawsuit over use of the road there since 2009.
“It’s a fall-back step we’re taking,” Delano said. “We’re not giving up on the legal side of it, but we have to look at the possibility that this goes on for years and years.”
Peters said he’s not interested in holding onto his land if Lenado is a “motorsports zoo.”
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County commissioners are scheduled to take up the land-use applications in October after next month’s court hearing in the road battle.
The duo sued the county in 2009 after commissioners agreed to designate parking areas along the road that runs through Lenado. The suit claimed that the commissioners’ action altered the status quo by formalizing parking that had been occurring illegally, resulting in trespassing, theft and devaluation of the land owned by the pair, and the denial of access to their property. The suit sought a finding that the road easement doesn’t allow the parking and staging uses.
Last fall, Peters and Delano agreed to suspend injunction proceedings in the hopes that a settlement could be reached among the landowners, the county and the Forest Service. The duo hoped to see the parking and staging moved onto Forest Service property farther up the road, Delano said.
“The county has an easement for a road, not for public parking, snowmobile staging and recreational use,” he said. “This is creating an ATV/snowmobile staging area right in the middle of our property.”
Snowmobilers and others park along the road to access the backcountry, particularly Kobey Park, a popular snowmobiling spot. Farther up the road is a commercial snowmobile operation.
Peters and Delano own about 175 acres in Lenado; Delano lives in a home there, and Peters makes use of a cabin in the rustic community. Last year, they outlined a proposal to create a historic district for the remote townsite, but not all property owners there bought into the proposal, and it apparently fizzled.
Since 1999, though, they’ve cleaned up a mine site at Lenado, cleared out trash and dilapidated buildings and are in the process of putting foundations under three of the most significant historic structures, according to Peters.
“Look at our track record – it’s pretty much to try to preserve Lenado,” he said.
The fight over the road isn’t about limiting public access but about putting it where it belongs, Peters said.
“I consider it a fool’s errand to try to preserve Lenado,” he added.