We live in the mountains surrounded by pine and aspens and visited by elk, deer, moose, foxes, and bobcats plus the semi-domesticated animals like dogs and cats.
The other thing we’re visited by are fires. Either by acts of nature like lightning strikes or acts of idiots like the homeless or just reckless folks.
The year before we moved here the area had a pretty large fire called the Cold Springs fire. It was started by a couple of young men who failed to put out their campfire properly.
Back when the subdivision was created in 1984, an egress route was required by Boulder County so folks up in on Ridge Road could have an alternate method of escaping a fire like the Cold Springs fire. It was called the Summer Access Road in part due to there being no maintenance on the road during winter months.
At a yearly HOA meeting, we heard the following story.
The property to the east of the Summer Access Road was purchased. The folks who purchased the property cut in a driveway at the half way point down the Summer Access Road going uphill to a ridge where they intended to build a house.
Unfortunately they didn’t touch base with the HOA and when they were confronted, indicated they were not only going to build there, that if the HOA didn’t maintain the road in the winter, they’d block it above their driveway which would of course prevent anyone else from using the road.
Reminder of course that is road was created so the folks up on Ridge Road could escape a fire in an emergency. If it’s blocked, that’s going to be a problem.
As a result, the HOA went to court and was able to block their access to the Summer Access Road.
The property does connect with Ridge Road at the topmost corner, however the fire department said the piece is too steep for fire engines and required that the owners work with the adjacent property owners to create an easement for a driveway a fire engine can navigate.
Unfortunately they had so alienated the neighbors that they were denied. As a result, the owners filed a quiet claim to the Summer Access Road. A quiet claim is intended basically to claim ownership of the Summer Access Road and quiet all other claims. This is different than a quit claim in that is used when a co-owner indicates they have no claim to shared property.
So back to court the HOA went. Up to this point, the Summer Access Road was an easement on the three properties that make up that area. The folks who own those three properties allowed the easement. But there wasn’t an official court document that indicated the HOA was fully responsible for the road. So there was some concern about the future of the road.
However the court ruled that the HOA does in fact own the maintenance and management of the road. The property owners were forced to restore the lower driveway and block the usage of it (the location was poorly chosen and run off would have damaged the Summer Access Road). They were permitted to create a driveway that pointed downhill from the first turn of the Summer Access Road and they were required to follow the HOA rules with regards to access to the Summer Access Road. As in the HOA could close the road due to inclement weather or simple maintenance of the road.
The property owners were also forced to put up a large bond for the upper driveway, $26,000 as I understand. And pay a chunk of the legal fees incurred by the HOA, again $42,000 as I recall. They also had to get an okay from the county before proceeding. Apparently they were pretty abusive towards the county when they were visited back at the start of all this.
The bad part in general is the homeowner HOA fees doubled for two years to pay for this. But the good news as noted above is the HOA actually officially is responsible for the Summer Access Road. I’ve not seen any further activity on this property. I don’t know if they are researching how to put in the new road, if the money has tapped them out short term or what. We’ll see what the future holds.