Alison Brown versus Chaffee County

Chaffee County MEDIA RELEASE: 24 June 2022

Order for Summary Judgment and Final Judgment Issued In Favor of County for Federal Case

SALIDA, COLO - Chaffee County has received the final judgment in the 2019 case filed by Dr. Alison Brown against Chaffee County Board of County Commissioners alleging deprivation of vested property interests for land use. In the ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Regina M. Rodriguez dated June 23, 2022, the Courts approved a summary judgment in favor of the County, as the Defendant in the case. Related claims against the County from Dr. Brown, the Plaintiff, had been previously dismissed by the federal Courts in 2020.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court by Dr. Brown against the County related to her dispute on proposed property use for a parcel of land she owns on Antelope Road in Chaffee County. In the judgment order, Judge Rodriguez concluded that Dr. Brown had “not established that she had a vested property interest in the right to conduct her intended activities on her land without undergoing the necessary Limited Impact Review,” and that “the Plaintiff’s position is not supported by the record.” The final judgment reinforced the County’s position that it fairly and consistently interpreted and applied the requirements of the county Land Use Code, state statute, and other laws in consideration of Dr. Brown’s land use proposals.

The County legal department invested over 430 hours in defense of the case, in addition to substantial time required of staff and elected officials for depositions and related preparation. Additionally, the County engaged outside counsel for assistance in the defense proceedings. The Court’s final judgment will permit the County to recover costs associated with the court fees. Expenses incurred for outside counsel are covered by the County’s insurance, though fiscal impacts are expected due to resulting insurance premium increases.

County Commissioner and Board chairman Greg Felt commented, “While the County is of course pleased with the Court’s ruling and outcome in the case, I’m saddened that this unsupported case was even filed since it required a significant amount of county resources to defend, time and resources that could have been devoted to the numerous other pressing issues facing the County. We look forward to moving past this case and investing our attention on more positive efforts for our community’s benefit. ”

Final Judgment. ECF 161.pdf (430.2 KB)
Order Grant MSJ-Dsmsl w Prej. ECF 160.pdf (196.2 KB)

Reading through the judgement, it’s clear to me that Alison just wouldn’t/couldn’t follow the County’s Planning process. She could have had both the multiple family dwellings and the kennel if had she had endured a Limited Impact review.

The County’s Planning process is geared toward allowing the developer to do exactly what they want. I guess she just stand the County Planners telling her what to do and how to do it.

Mountain Mail reports on the County press release. 6-28-22

Brown takes case to higher court

  • by Robert Boczkiewicz Special to The Mail
  • Aug 19, 2022

DENVER – Alison Brown is taking her land-use fight with the Chaffee County commissioners to a higher court.

Brown is asking the federal appeals court in Denver to overturn a lower court decision in June that sided with the county.

She contends the U.S. District Court judge should not have granted judgment to the county without a jury trial of her lawsuit involving her property at 11600 Antelope Road.

The county denied her a certificate of occupancy on a newly constructed home and concluded she was out of compliance with the county land use code.

Her lawsuit sought a jury trial and compensatory damages, or alternately nominal damages for mental, physical and emotional injuries as well as attorney’s fees and costs.

Brown’s attorney, Charles Cain of Salida, recently filed an outline of her view of the case and a list of reasons forming her challenge to the June decision.

“At the center of this case is an ongoing and long-standing dispute regarding (Brown’s) lawful land use of two 40-acre properties,” Cain wrote in the filing to judges of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“These properties were zoned rural, which permitted agricultural development, equestrian arenas and the maintenance of livestock and other animals,” Cain stated. “Dr. Brown purchased these properties for the purposes of forming a fox hunting club in Colorado. In line with that goal, Dr. Brown submitted a building permit application in 2016 for a caretaker’s residence for her fox hunting club to support the property and animals.”

Her attorney said the county classified her application as a permitted use, certified her zoning compliance and issued a building permit.

“Months later, prompted by disputes initiated by Dr. Brown’s neighbors, the County changed the classification of Dr. Brown’s use to classifications that required the County to conduct a limited impact review,” Cain asserted. “Without inspection, notice or hearing, the County deemed her land use unlawful and in violation of the Chaffee County Land Use Code, which included alleged use violations of the previously approved structure that had not yet been completed let alone used.”

Brown sued in Chaffee County District Court. While the dispute was ongoing, she modified her use, curing the alleged violations, but the county in 2017 amended its land use code “specifically to target her,” her attorney contended in the recent filing.

“In hearings on the 2017 Amendment, the County admitted it had no means of continued enforcement against Dr. Brown without changing the governing laws, County’s enforcement efforts included, but were not limited to, denying her occupancy of the previously approved structure, and also denying her alternative request to obtain camping permits on her properties,” Cain went on to say.

In 2019, Brown sued in Chaffee County District Court for allegedly depriving her of rights in violation of constitutional protections for due process and equal protection. The defendants removed the case to the United States District Court in Denver. It was there that Judge Regina M. Rodriguez ruled in June against Brown.

In her appeal, Brown argues that under the law Rodriguez should have allowed a jury to consider the lawsuit, rather than summarily granting judgment to the county based on filings both sides submitted.

For example, Cain contends that Rodriguez, in granting judgment without a trial, incorrectly decided that there were no genuine issues of material facts for a jury to decide in a trial.

Two oxymorons in this article:

  • Brown appeals
  • Laywer files 59 page brief.

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