11/17/2007

Eminent Domain Issue Forces Colorado Land Dispute Property Owner Jack Hanna to Say, Not For Sale to County: EWORLDWIRE, 9/25/07

In a surprise move, the County of Clear Creek, Colorado, recently condemned Boulder resident and retired Michigan real estate developer Jack W. Hanna's dream property. Condemnation or eminent domain is a power that is given to all of the counties within the United States - it is almost impossible for an owner to stop the process.

"I was utterly shocked," said Hanna. "Last October I purchased an 80 acre 'dream parcel' located on U.S. 6 at Tunnel 5 in Clear Creek County. It has a half mile of Clear Creek stream frontage. I reviewed the approved 2005 Clear Creek Green Way Trail Plan, which is a trail network for horses, bikes and hikers some 25 miles long. When I met with the County last October, everyone seemed to be following the plan. I hired a great team of professionals to help me plan a modest, 3000 square foot Western Cedar log cabin; my team worked with Clear Creek building officials beginning in October, 2006."

After spending $75,000 in professional fees to satisfy the many county requirements to build on the property, Mr. Hanna met at the property with the Open Space Committee last June. The ten committee members assured him their only interest was a trail for hiking, bikes and horses. Mr. Hanna agreed to a trail - his only concern was the location. He didn't want the planned trail to be 25 feet to his home. That was the last time Mr. Hanna had any discussions with the committee.

In what he calls, "The Friday the 13th Letter", Hanna stated: "We basically had all of the required work done and were about ready to pull permits when the deedholder gave me the Friday the 13th of July 'Notice of Condemnation'."

The deal had not closed yet; Hanna had until October, 2007, to close, but he closed in two weeks. He further stated, "It was an obvious ploy to squeeze me out of the deal, screw up any financing I might have, but from my point of view, the Clear Creek Green Way Plan spelled out a trail only - the discussions I had with the Open Space Committee indicated only a trail. I think the County owes it to everyone to follow the plan that was approved. The plan on page 69 of the policy states it will not use condemnation and will work with willing sellers, only, if they followed the plan, the problem would go away. Had I known there were plans to condemn the property, I would not have spent one dime or wasted my time."

The county claims it was trying to buy the property for five years, prior to Hanna's purchase agreement in October, 2006. Hanna signed an option to purchase days after he saw it listed in the MLS. The seller had the property for sale in the MLS for seven years; mysteriously several deals fell through when the potential buyers began dealing with the county. Hanna added, "If the county wanted it so bad, why didn't it buy the property then? Clear Creek County has less than 10,000 residents and many expenses to be concerned about, from public safety to roads, fire and police. The schools need help and, frankly, the entire infrastructure of the county is old - the County could be addressing these issues if the approved Clear Creek Green Way Plan was followed. We can settle this in two minutes."

Hanna concluded, "If Clear Creek County has another 20 or 30 miles of trail to purchase, then I guess I'm going to be the example for everybody else - the other land owners might as well just sign a blank check."

The Open Space Green Way Plan was approved by voters in 2000.

For more information on Clear Creek Green Way Plan, visit http://www.co.clear-creek.co.us/OSWebsite/Greenway.htm.


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