April 11, 2014

“‘This is our heaven’: Colorado couple fights to save land from eminent domain”

Appalling. Fundamentally un-American, in that it attacks one of the very anchors of our liberty:  private property rights.   And it’s most certainly unconstitutional — regardless of the execrable nonsense of the Kelo decision — along with a showy example of governmental power to bully the individual government was constructed to represent.

We’ve fallen, and we can’t get up:

“They’re spending us to death,” said landowner Andy Barrie.

He is not talking about property taxes, inflation or even the cost of skiing in glitzy ski country. Rather, he’s talking about the legal fight he and his wife have been waging to save their pristine piece of mountain property — with breathtaking views of Colorado’s high country — from being taken over by the county through eminent domain.

Their battle is a unique test of private property rights. Unlike in countless other cases, where local governments have used those powers to seize land to make way for a road or some economic development project, Colorado’s Summit County is using eminent domain to go after the Barries’ land simply because officials want the open space.

It’s a peaceful plot of land the Barries don’t want to part with.

“Everyone has their special place where they really like to go, and when we came up here the first time we said this is our heaven, this is a special place,” Andy Barrie explained.

Two years ago, Andy and Ceil Barrie bought two pieces of land: a house in an established subdivision, and another piece of property at a higher elevation, accessible by an old mining road.

The isolated parcel is surrounded by 2.2 million acres of White River National Forest, and is essentially an island of private property. It includes an old mining cabin, an outhouse and a shuttered gold mine. The area is popular with hikers.

The couple’s trouble started when the U.S. Forest Service took them to task for using a utility vehicle to drive from their main residence to their cabin. They say they never went off-road, and petitioned for the path to be declared a county road.

The county, though, responded by trying to buy the Barries’ higher-elevation property in order to protect and preserve it as open space. The Barries, who never had any plans to develop it, did not want to sell.

That’s when the county pulled their trump card.

Unbeknownst to the Barries, the previous owner had remodeled the cabin without permits. So Summit County commissioners voted to condemn the property for wiring and plumbing (even though the cabin has none) and filed for eminent domain.

“I understand that we are all trying to save these beautiful mountains and make them accessible to everyone, but you know that property has been sitting there since President Garfield signed our land patent, and we’re not doing anything bad there,” Ceil Barrie said.

Last week, the two sides participated in required, formal mediation with a judge. Summit County, which refused interview requests, released a statement saying: “Both parties engaged in productive negotiations in pursuit of a voluntary settlement regarding the purchase. … We are optimistic that a resolution will be reached within a matter of weeks, if not days.”

The Barries’ hopes are dimming. Asked if recent mediation pointed to a way for the Barries to keep the land in the family name and avoid eminent domain, Andy Barrie responded flatly, “No, they’re taking it.”

Further, they’re concerned that should Summit County seize control of their 10-acre tract, the county will simply trade the property with the U.S. Forest Service for valuable land closer to town.

“They collude together to basically screw up their citizens. … Sooner or later, we’re going to run out of money, but we wanted to fight the good fight and let people know our story and what their government is up to,” Andy Barrie said.


The Barries have spent more than $75,000 to date. The mediation judge recently advised them the financial figure could double in the coming months.

“I even promised my daughter she could get married up here, and now all that’s gone,” Andy Barrie said.

Yesterday, when Obama spoke about the “cynical” people who wish to constrain government and halt “change” — all while alluding tacitly to the constraining documents themselves, the Constitution and Declaration in particular — what he was saying is that “progress” is only available through “change,” and “change” is only available to us through the expansion of government and its oversight of our lives and checks on our behavior and individual liberties.

This attempt by government to take a family’s legally purchased private property, using some of the numerous regulations they pass in order to pull out some available rationale for their confiscatory and predatory behavior, shows exactly why we no longer live in a representative republic and why, in fact, we live in a kind of quiet police state, run by federal bureaucracies who, more and more, are armed.

Fortunately for Mr Barrie, he’s not some backwoods hillbilly.  Otherwise, I have no doubt that instead of mediation, they’d be finding themselves evicted at the point of a federal bureaucratic agency’s guns.

(h/t Geoff B)


Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:49am

Comments (16)

  1. be nice to have the judges who side with the individual first and put a heavy burden on the state

  2. There’s a brewing range war between a rancher & BLM.

    The State & its agents are ravenous about land and think little about even cold-blooded murder to seize it.

  3. Perhaps they need all these armed agents, in part, so that the higher ups can get good deals on their own personal weapons and the administrators can pocket some cash. Can’t let the legislators have all the fun now, hi Leland.

  4. While jury trials are permitted in eminent domain cases, the issue is limited to the value of the property and the state stacks the deck as to the evidence allowed. If there is enough outrage, similar to the Kelo backlash, which resulted in laws preventing condemnation in aid of private development in many states, having a jury of twelve members of the public decide whether the taking is for a sufficient, bona fide public purpose would be a could start.

    “Open Space” will be the death of private property as we know it, as regional entities will attempt to herd everyone into Stack-A-Prole flats in major cities.

  5. Hans Eicholz: Charles Koch’s Jefferson

    Where we see amidst the “controversy”:

    Eskrow writes that government growth has nothing to do with the taking of personal liberty for Jefferson. Really? Then why worry about placing limits on what a government can do, most especially an elected one? Because he didn’t want hereditary rulership, retorts Eskrow. Clever choice of wording, but we have the full quote. Jefferson was distinguishing between elective and hereditary monarchy, and while he disparaged both, he thought the first type actually worse! So who is playing fast and loose with terms now?

    The reality, especially when set within the wider context of other letters, becomes even more interesting. All of that discussion about graduated taxation, for example, was raised during Jefferson’s time in France where he saw the obscenely large hunting grounds of the French aristocracy. But such taxation was not meant for America.

    A shortage of uncultivated and monopolized lands with masses of unemployed was the result of a special hereditary aristocracy in control of government that had ground the French peasantry under centuries of artificial restrictions. For America he advocated elimination of primogeniture for intestacy, but the right to own property remained essential to republicanism. Thus he wrote to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816: “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.”

  6. NV Clark County commissioner to people from Utah who plan on supporting rancher Bundy

    It started when Darin Bushman, a Piute County, Utah, commissioner, called Collins about the Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle in the Gold Butte area, about 80 miles east of Las Vegas. The cattle are being seized after Bundy failed to pay grazing fees over 20 years. When the conversation ended, Bushman posted on Facebook that Collins said Utahns are “inbred bastards” and if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they “better have funeral plans.”

    Collins also told Bushman that they should mind their “own (expletive) business.”


  7. I need to know more about the Bundy issue, because I don’t think I have all the pertinent info.

    My understanding is:

    The family bought the land/grazing rights in the 1880s.

    Bundys have been paying state grazing fees all along.

    In 1993, the BLM began to impose the fees that they’re 20 years in arrears for.

    [lacuna: what was this for and why? ]

    In 1998, the Desert Tortoise thing came into play, wherein the BLM can up and claim endangered status for a critter and extract money for land use where the critter lives.

    The Bundys figure the state grazing fees are totes legit (so they pay) but the BLM claims are a farce, hence the stand-off?

    Is that about right?

  8. Hubs told me last night that Harry Reid had the BLM redraw the boundary line so that one of Reid’s buddies could have more land. The redrawing included the Bundy’s range. True? I don’t know.

    The tortoises are to be exterminated, precluding the need to get Bundy’s cattle off the land. Cattle that are being confiscated (read: rustled) by the BLM.

    It’s all a big mess and someone is going to get killed before this is over.

  9. Here . It’s Infowars, but stopped clocks and all that.

  10. America, land of the free my ass

    what a fucking shithole

  11. Nobody’s keeping you from emmigrating.

    I hear New Zealand is nice.

  12. your fascist fuckhole oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light piece of shit government RAPES the bank accounts of people what try to escape is my understanding

  13. Stop it happy. You’re really being over the top, even for you.

  14. America enthusiastically becomes a fascist cumstained slutstate and me I’m over the top?

    I think not

  15. I guess I’m getting old since blue streaks of cussing in the middle of the afternoon are all wrong.

  16. I’m cooking too and that’s very zen