Boulder Adverse Possession Land Grab Saga Continues

In an interesting turn of events, the hot topic of a recent case of adverse possession in South Boulder may appear to be a fabricated land-grab after all.

Boulder County District Court Judge James C. Klein may have an opportunity to review the case again. I’ve heard through local media sources that Don and Susie Kirlin have suggested Richard McLean and Edith Stevens may have systematically orchestrated a plan to take advantage of Colorado’s Adverse Possession laws so that they could take the Kirlin’s land from them.

It appears now that an appellate court agrees this is a possibility and it at least merits further review and has sent the case back to Judge Klein. There have been reports in the local media, including aerial photographs, showing the subject property in various stages of change as a path appears on the land. This has been part of the controversy from the beginning.

While local newspaper reports seem to indicate that Judge Klein is ready to review the case again and welcomes new the new opportunity, the Kirlin’s are especially excited since Klein has the clearance to possibly overturn the former decision.

While McClean and Stevens have publicly expressed their desire to continue to make their case and in a recent Camera article even seem to welcome this turn of events, I think it’ll be a difficult road for them. 18 years is a long time.

The key factor in an Adverse Possession case is that the people taking someone’s land through this law need to show that they have overtly utilized the land in question for in excess of 18 years. If the Kirlins had done anything to show they had interfered with that use by McClean and Stevens within that 18 year time period, my understanding is that the clock starts over. And McClean and Stevens have to prove an uninterrupted 18 years of overt use as I’ve understood the law.

Many of us have seen the photos that show the land without a path and then with the path in what appears to be a time span of less than 18 years. I guess that’s for the courts and Judge Klein to decide.

Wouldn’t this have already been reviewed? These judges and lawyers don’t get to be where they are in the system due to serendipity. They’re smart people and they know the rules. Then again, everybody’s human, even lawyers and maybe somebody missed something.

I’m just glad that this is coming before the judge again and that there’s an opportunity for the community to see this more closely examined. It seemed that everyone got up-in-arms over the issue and many blamed the law itself as ‘bad’. I think too many folks don’t understand how the law works. It may have been a hasty decision at first to allow McClean and Stevens to gain ownership of the Kirlin’s land.

Just my $0.02 but the Colorado Court of Appeals seems to think it’s worth looking at again. If they do decide there was something nefarious in what happened, I’m also interested to see what the fall-out of that will be in the coming months.

Ultimately, what we’ve read in the papers doesn’t seem to indicate that the Kirlins had abandoned their land; and in the true spirit of what’s the highest and best use of the land, doesn’t it make more sense to have a build-able lot in a residential community still available to the original and rightful owners?

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