PRIVATE PROPERTY “WRONGS”–TRESPASSED LANDOWNERS FRUSTRATED WITH CIVIL PROCESS

Mirror Staff Report

MONTROSE–He has no certificate of occupancy, and no access or sanitation permits despite the presence of port-a-pot facilities, carports and a residence. And yet, an alleged trespasser in Spring Creek Canyon is not being targeted by Montrose County for permit violations, County Planner Steve White said.

“At this point we are not taking action,” White said. “There are claims that someone has built on someone else’s property, and if we pursue anyone at this point it would be the landowners, who didn’t do anything wrong.

“Better to resolve it in court.”

Case No. 13-CV-112 was filed in December by landowners Scott Kenton and Brad Switzer (a local attorney) in an attempt to remove Nicholas Hidu, a neighboring landowner who has constructed a residence, port-a-potties, garages, sheds and carports on their cliffside property in Spring Creek Canyon. The landowners, who verified their ownership of the parcel in question through an independent survey completed at their own expense, have already taken part in one attempt at mediation with Hidu and his attorney John Mitchel, and have been ordered to participate in and pay for another day of mediation at roughly $195 per hour before the matter finally goes to trial Oct. 27-28.

Switzer received an official letter from White, similar to one sent to Hidu, on Jan. 10, stating that, “It has been brought to our attention that a residence has been built on your property in the Beaver Hill II Tract 39 without having been issued a building permit…This letter is official notice to you, in accordance with state law and county codes and regulations, that you have ten (10) days from the date on this letter to bring the property into compliance with all applicable zoning, building and sanitation regulations. Otherwise I have will have no alternative but to refer this matter to the office of the Montrose County Attorney.”

“My position is that it is not a habitable structure. When you build something you are supposed to get a certificate of occupancy. Now we have a guy living there who doesn’t have that,” Kenton said. “He’s got no sanitation, no nothing, but the County is not concerned.”

Kenton, who called the matter “all-consuming,” also expressed frustration that the court has ordered a second costly mediation in the matter with Hidu when the ownership of the parcel is not in question.

“Nobody will stay on the subject,” Kenton said. “He’s on our property but we’re not mediating that. We are mediating a ‘solution,’ and now the Judge has ordered us to go back again.

“Brad and I have that eight-acre piece on top of the mesa there, and it has been totally compromised by this guy’s third-world shack with no power, no water and no sanitation.”

Requests to have the trespasser removed by Sheriff’s officers are refused on the basis of this being “a civil matter,” to be resolved by the courts.

“We should have just run the guy off the minute we verified that he was over the line, and let him call the sheriff,” Kenton said. “We are supposed to be good neighbors, but look what our neighbor is doing!

The court system drags on forever,” he said, “and we can’t even sell because we got this guy to deal with. If Brad was not an attorney I could not even afford to fight this; this guy pays no county taxes, does not have local license plates, but he has all the rights in the world to do what he wants in Montrose County.

“Since we found he was on our side of the line, we get nothing–and our land has been ruined for at least a generation.”

White, who acknowledged that he is not an attorney, wondered aloud why Kenton and Switzer don’t just “get a trespass order.”

“We have kind of stepped back,” he said, “Based on the fact that they are owners of the property, it is totally in their control. We will let the property owners settle the issue.

“We are watching this one very carefully,” he said.