foot trails

Meadows Trail closed

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The Town of Mountain Village announced Wednesday the closure of Meadows Trail from Coyote Court to the cul-de-sac at the end of Lawson Overlook until further notice, according to a town news release.

The decision was made after the owners of Lot 615 1CR, which the now-closed section of the trail crosses, “threatened, both publicly and privately, to physically close or otherwise block a portion of the Meadows Trail,” according to the release.

“The town has been working and negotiating in good faith with the owner to resolve issues surrounding the development of the property for three years,” town attorney Paul Wisor told the Daily Planet Thursday. “The town closed the trail only after the owner announced its intention to block the trail. The decision to temporarily close the trail was a difficult one, but it was made in the interest of public safety.”

Wisor added that the town is “considering all options at this time.”

Mountain Village Town Council is hosting a virtual special meeting Saturday from 9-11 a.m. to discuss the current situation and receive public comment. The public is invited to tune in to share public comment, or they can submit public comment through the link bit.ly/TMVContactUs. A recording of the meeting will be posted by Monday, according to town public information officer Kathrine Warren.

Currently, signage has been posted to redirect trail users. Local traffic to the property line of Lot 615-1CR is allowed and there are signs explaining where the trail is currently closed. Trail users wanting to travel east to west must use Adams Ranch Road and Lawson Overlook as an alternative route, according to the release.

Brown Dog Properties LLC — Frank and Ruth Hensen — owns Lot 615-1CR. According to public records, Brown Dog Properties LLC purchased the lot, which is currently undeveloped, in 2018.

The Meadows Trail runs through Lot 615-1CR and has been a popular route between Mountain Village, Lawson Hill and Telluride, particularly in connecting Highway 145 and Lawson Hill, for commuters and recreational enthusiasts for over two decades.

The Hensens explained that they do not wish to close the trail, but in order to develop the lot, which is zoned as multi-family and approved for up to three units, driveways would cross that section of the trail, which could be dangerous.

“We originally approached the town in August 2018 before we purchased the property. We had town staff meet us on the property to discuss the only feasible access driveway into the lot and discussed the safety hazards associated with the trail in its current location,” the Hensens explained in an email to the Daily Planet Thursday. “ … Vehicles backing out of their driveways with the trail in its current location will surely lead to an accident. That’s the last thing any homeowner or trail user wants to experience.

“After three years of vetting every feasible option to move the trail, we engineered the only viable solution that involves moving the trail about 40 feet to the south and onto the Lawson Overlook right of way for less than 200 feet before returning to the existing trail path. Other trail solutions were investigated and were rejected due to the expense, or site conditions that made the engineering unfeasible.”

Mountain Village Town Council reviewed a minor subdivision request to vacate a general easement and relocate the Meadows Trail out of the town’s easement onto the town’s unimproved right of way during the regular July meeting. Council members unanimously voted to table the item until the Meadows Trail issue was adequately addressed by the applicant, according to the release.

The owners of the property have pursued a development plan that requires moving a portion of the trail up to the Lawson Overlook road. The development plan also requested the town release easements to allow for, in the owners’ opinion, a “more optimal building site,” according to the release. Town staff worked with the owners to identify a development plan that did not require moving the trail to the road, but the owners ultimately did not pursue any of those alternatives, it added.

“The town and council felt that moving the trail would diminish the quality of the experience on that trail,” the town’s acting senior planner John Miller said in the release.

The Hensens submitted a Daily Planet letter to the editor earlier this week.

“This connecting artery has been discussed and negotiated for the past three years with town staff, but they are unwilling to put the trail in the appropriate easements to allow the development of the residential lots it crosses. In order to do this, the trail users will have to move onto the asphalt for less than 200 feet,” the letter read. “As a result of the negotiation impasse, the developers see no other option than to close the trail. It’s unfortunate that neither the Mountain Village Town Council or the town staff will fully investigate the facts of this matter and address the issues with fairness until the trail is closed and they hear about it from you, the users, but I suspect that is how this will turn out.

“We love hiking and biking the trails in our region, but trespassing on private property is not OK. We would much rather ride on less than 200 foot of asphalt than have the trail be closed. Almost every trail in the Trails Master Plan includes riding on asphalt. The idea that town staff and council condone this trespass action is disheartening. We regret that we are compelled to take this step. We have no alternative. Please understand our position. When we close the trail there will be no through passage on the trail without trespassing on private property. Please be respectful and find alternate routes.”

Town officials also cited safety public concerns factored into the decision to close the trail this week.

“The owners publicly threatened to close the trail down, and we do not know what risk that might pose to trail users where it crosses their property,” town recreation and transit director Jim Loebe said in the release. “We believed it was imperative to proactively close the trail to keep users safe. We are very committed to resolving this issue and seeing the Meadows Trail reopened as soon as possible.”

The Hensens said they have not had any negative interactions with trail users, but have heard “many trail users complain about the Da Vinci Bridge and the steep grades at the S-turns just west of our lot.”

“Our plans are to construct three dwelling units on the property per its zoning. We are frequent users of the trail and have no desire to have the trail closed. We only want to get through this process and move forward as soon as possible,” they added.

For a map of the closure and more information, visit the town’s webpage at townofmountainvillage.com/meadows-trail-lot-615-1cr.

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