Mulcahy clings to Aspen home through continued litigation
By continuing to live in the Burlingame Ranch home that a judge has ordered him to sell, Lee Mulcahy now finds himself the beneficiary of the very judicial system he has frequently lamented.
Mulcahy has exhausted all of his legal remedies in Colorado in his battle to overturn a favorable ruling for the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority, which was delivered in June 2016 by Pitkin County District Court Judge Chris Seldin.
Mulcahy’s last strike in Colorado came April 30, when the state Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal of Seldin’s order requiring Mulcahy to sell his home because he failed to meet the housing authority’s ownership requirements of working 1,500 hours a year in Pitkin County.
He has since taken steps to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear his case and also is suing the housing authority in the U.S. District Court of Denver.
In the Pitkin County case, Seldin has yet to release the stay — that’s legal speak for postponement — of his 2016 ruling. APCHA wants the stay lifted so that Mulcahy is legally required to list his home for sale. Mulcahy has countered in court filings that he still is pursuing the U.S. Supreme Court and the stay should remain in place. The matter is pending.
“Seldin can lift the stay,” Mulcahy said Friday, “but this is going to be in litigation for years, unless we sit down and talk about it.”
In other words, Mulcahy said he has no intentions to leave or sell his home.
“Mama Sandy and I will never sell,” he said in reference to his mother, who lives with him at Burlingame Ranch, a complex of predominantly townhouse-style residences. Mulcahy is one of a handful of owners of single-family homes at Burlingame. By winning the housing lottery, he bought an undeveloped lot there for $150,000 in October 2006.
He and his relatives, including his late father, Bud, completed construction of the 3-bedroom, 31/2-bathroom, 1,912-square-foot home in 2012, according to Pitkin County property records.
APCHA attorney Tom Smith, who has served as its spokesman for legal matters involving Mulcahy, could not be reached for comment Friday.
However, in an Aug. 23-dated motion to dismiss Mulcahy’s federal complaint against APHCA, Smith wrote that Mulcahy’s lawsuit “is an effort to relitigate matters which were resolved in a previous state court action.”
Mulcahy sued APCHA in Denver federal court in July. The complaint alleges that because Mulcahy responded to APCHA’s warning in July 2015 that he had run afoul of worker-housing rules, APCHA should have given him 60 days to demonstrate that he was in compliance. APCHA also should have ended the inquiry because of Mulcahy’s response, argues the suit, which was filed by Denver attorney Jordan Porter.
Mulcahy’s suit offers a “great number of factual allegations,” Smith’s response continues, that aren’t supported by the state court proceedings and are “demonstrably false.”
Smith’s response also notes that Mulcahy was given multiple opportunities to seek an administrative hearing before the matter went to court.
“The only reason that there was no administrative hearing is that Mulcahy failed to request it,” Smith’s motion says.
Smith also has filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Mulcahy said he wants a hearing before the Aspen City Council and Pitkin Board of County Commissioners. He also said APCHA has singled him out while other homeowners in similar situations were treated differently.
“You have selective enforcement,” he said. “All we’re asking for is equal treatment.”
Mulcahy has until Sept. 27 to submit a writ of certiorari, which is a request for judicial review, to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court, like the Colorado high court, doesn’t take up the case, Mulcahy will have used all of his legal options to overturn Seldin’s 2016 order.
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The U.S. Forest Service announced Tuesday it is starting review of Pitkin County’s proposal for a trail between Redstone and McClure Pass. The process will include two chances at public comment.