Krabloonik, Snowmass exchange arguments leading up to eviction hearing |

Krabloonik, Snowmass exchange arguments leading up to eviction hearing

Krabloonik as seen on Aug. 23, in Snowmass Village.
File photo

Written arguments between the town of Snowmass Village and the Krabloonik dog-sledding operation were filed last week in a ramp-up to a key hearing in the coming months.

The town’s attempt to evict Krabloonik through the legal system began in December when it filed a “forcible entry and detainer” action in Pitkin County District Court. The December filing followed months of talks between the town and Krabloonik, chiefly over whether the kennel’s care of the sled-dogs was in default of the best practices plan referred to in the lease agreement. 

Lawyers on both sides were not talking Tuesday. According to court documents, a possession hearing will be held no earlier than April 15 and no later than May 15. The hearing would be scheduled for three days, followed by a judge’s order on whether the eviction could proceed.

Under Colorado law, eviction lawsuits are sealed from the public. They are made public only until or unless a landlord retains possession of the property.

The town’s eviction suit against Krabloonik, however, was consolidated with Krabloonik’s complaint seeking a declaratory judgment that it has not been in default of its lease. The competing cases were filed in December — Kraloonik’s action on the second of the month, the town’s 10 days later — and both sides agreed to merge them for the sake of judicial efficiency. 

Chris Seldin approved the consolidation Dec. 21, and written pleadings have been public since then. 

“Krabloonik’s declaratory judgment action … essentially asks the Court to rule on many of the same issues that must be decided in an FED (forcible entry and detainer) action, including whether or not Krabloonik is in default under the subject lease,” according to the town’s motion to dismiss Krabloonik’s claim for declaratory relief. 

The motion was filed Jan. 23 by lawyer James Fosnaught, who with fellow Karp Neu Hanlon P.C. firm lawyer Jeffrey Conklin are handling the eviction proceedings for Snowmass. 

If the town prevails in its eviction bid, Snowmass would be without the dog-sledding operation for the first time since before the late Dan MacEachen opened the operation in 1976 after receiving county approval in 1974. 

Krabloonik’s lease with the town expires Sept. 26, 2026, and includes an option for the tenants to buy the property from within June 21, 2025, to Sept. 25, 2026, with the understanding they continue to run it as a dogsledding operation. 

The lease is $10 a year and allows Krabloonik owners to use two lots for the dog-sledding and restaurant operations. Owners Danny and Gina Phillips, who bought the operation in December 2014 and agreed to a revised lease with the town in June 2015, have kept the business open during litigation. 

A Jan. 24 filing by a Krabloonik lawyer argued the town has no basis to evict the business over its treatment of the Alaskan huskies. The filing was made in response to the town’s eviction action. 

Part of the argument centers around the town’s Best Practice Council and an advisory review subcommittee, which established guidelines for Krabloonik in 2015. The filing said Krabloonik has followed the best practices outlined from roughly eight years ago, and didn’t breach its lease because the shortcomings alleged by the town “are based upon required standards exceeding the standards being met in 2015.”

Dogs bark in their outdoor houses at the end of the day at Krabloonik in Snowmass Village on Monday, March 14, 2022.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The town’s allegations that Krabloonik hasn’t met the best practices focus on the operation’s policies toward working pets, spaying and neutering, record-keeping, a retirement program for the dogs, public education, breeding program, and dog tethering. 

Krabloonik’s answer addresses those issues and says the town failed to explain how it wasn’t not meeting the criteria of the best practices. On June 28, the Best Practices Review Committee issued a report saying Krabloonik had violated seven of the 14 requirements from the Best Practices Plan, sending into motion a series of compliance and default notices from the town to Krabloonik.

For instance,  “The BPRC (Best Practices Review Committee) found the dogs receive two one-hour off tether sessions per week. They decided this is not ‘excellent,’” said Krabloonik’s response, which was filed by John Mallonee of Balcomb & Green PC. “They did not find the off-tether time had decreased since 2015 when the Town admitted in signing the lease that Krabloonik was complying with the Best Practices. The BPRC’s finding shows the moving goalposts that are being imposed on Krabloonik based upon the ambiguous language ‘excellent off tether program.’ This cannot serve as a basis for a breach …”

The town countered in its filing last week that the statute of limitations expired, regarding Krabloonik’s suit seeking declaratory relief that it didn’t violate its lease. Any claim for relief should have been filed within two years of the lease being entered, the town argued. 

The town’s filing also said Kraboonik is merely trying to rewrite the lease through its own legal action, and it did not adequately address the town’s compliance requests. 

“Krabloonik had actual knowledge that it was required under the terms of the Lease to adhere to the Best Practices Plan when it signed the Lease in 2015,” said the town’s filing. “Krabloonik now seeks to have this Court declare and essentially rewrite the Lease Agreement between the Parties. Here, the Lease has been in place since June 1, 2015, when the Parties negotiated its terms to include the Best Practices. Krabloonik has known what it agreed to and after signing the Lease it has waited seven years to challenge the lease provision as vague and unenforceable. Its claim is time-barred.”

For more information, read our previous coverage:

Snowmass Village, Krabloonik merge cases in eviction dispute

Krabloonik sues town of Snowmass over eviction

Krabloonik ownership digs in their heels, plan to stay open amid dispute

Krabloonik dog sled owners on thin ice with Snowmass Village