San Juan County may enter ski area land battle |

San Juan County may enter ski area land battle

Aspen Times Staff

Silverton Mountain Ski Area may be one step closer to absolving its legal problems with Jim Jackson, an Aspen resident who owns several mining claims in and around the area’s boundaries.

The San Juan County commissioners are considering condemning or buying the land owned by Jackson, who filed suit against the ski area’s owner, Aaron Brill, in December. Jackson claims he has proof that Brill and his clients have repeatedly trespassed on his land and avalanche debris from control work has littered his property and placed his cabin in jeopardy.

The county feels it has a right to purchase or condemn Jackson’s land if he doesn’t drop his complaint, since the avalanche control work is a necessity to keep County Road 110 open through the winter.

Jackson and Brill have been battling since 1999, when Brill made it known that he intended to develop a guided extreme skiing area on land adjacent to Jackson’s property. Jackson originally had his own plans to develop a ski area, which included a tramway.

Jackson could not be reached for comment.

The San Juan County district attorney stated that there was not enough evidence to link the tracks through Jackson’s property, nor the avalanche debris, to Brill and Silverton Mountain. The tracks could have been made by backcountry skiers, and the avalanche debris could have been the result of the county’s own control work or natural slides, the district attorney said. Brill has roped off property belonging to Jackson that lies within the areas boundaries, according to eyewitness reports.

Local Silverton residents and landowners have basically labeled Brill a hero for reviving the town’s struggling economy.

“Mr. Jackson was touting the possibility of a ski area here for a number of years, but he never followed through on it in any meaningful form,” Todd Hennis, a Silverplume resident who owns several hundred acres of land near County Road 110, told the Durango Herald in January. “Now Mr. Brill has come in and become a meaningful part of the community.

“Mr. Jackson is operating as a wrecker and the San Juan County winter economy is being held hostage.”

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