Eminent Domain: Colorado Couple May Lose Dream Cabin Over ATV Usage

Tara Dodrill

A Colorado couple might lose their cabin home because they use an ATV to reach the property. The Summit County Commissioners voted recently to use eminent domain statutes to seize 10 acres of Andy and Ceil Barrie's home after learning about the ATV used to get to the cabin.

Andy Barrie no longer feels like he can trust the government, according to statements the Colorado eminent domain victim shared with the Associated Press. The Summit County couple purchased the cabin in the woods in an old mining claim near the ski town of Breckenridge. The Barrie's have owned the century old cabin since 2011. Since their dream home is more than one mile from the nearest country road, they use snowmobiles or an ATV to reach their property. The all-terrain transportation vehicles came with the cabin in the purchase contract.

Trouble began brewing for the Colorado cabin owners when the US Forest Service told them they could not use an ATV, or any type of motorized vehicle to reach their cabin. The property is surrounded by the White River National Forest. Last October Summit County officials released a report which barred public motorized access to the area. The alpine tundra is also a habitat for the lynx, an endangered species. The couple reportedly only uses the ATV to reach their cabin and do not permit joy-riding of any type on their land.

Summit County Attorney Jeff Huntley said the count opted to seize the property via eminent domain because the couple refused to stop using an ATV to get to their own front door. "People in the community are very intent on preserving the back country," Huntley said.

The Barrie's are also keenly interested in preserving the White River National Forest back country. The couple plans to donate some of the land to conservation groups and is even willing to tear down the beautiful rustic cabin. Apparently the previous owner expanded the dwelling without a permit. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in areas where you do not need a permit to build anything have a difficult time understanding tearing down an historic structure because a fee and a piece of paper were not handed over to a government office before grabbing a hammer and some nails.

The US Forest Service maintains that the Colorado cabin owners do not have a legal right of way to the property, the couple staunchly disagrees. The Barrie's are mounting a legal challenge to the Summit County eminent domain action.

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