The History of “The Fence” and Why this Website Exists

The History of “The Fence” and Why this Website Exists

Looking North in Parcel A from the driveway easement. Green Mountain with snow in the distance.

This is a fairly long post – the history of this matter is somewhat complicated.  If you prefer to skip the details but disagree with constructing a private fence on public open space property, there are three things you can do right now:

1.  Contact your MA and MD board members and Jeffco Open Space, and

2.  Sign the petition to let Jefferson County and Ken Caryl know that they should oppose fencing this beautiful meadow.

3.  Spread the word.  Tell your neighbors that love open space about the fence and this website.

 The History

Up until 2006, there was a fence running down both sides of the gravel driveway easement in an area called “Parcel A”.  Parcel A is a Jefferson County and Ken Caryl open space area, leased, maintained and insured by the taxes and homeowners dues of Ken Caryl residents.  At the South end of Parcel A there are continuous open space areas for 4 miles following the hogback (a 400-foot high geologic feature) all the way to Deer Creek Canyon.  To see for yourself what Parcel A is, I have provided a link to the Ken Caryl Trail Map showing Parcel A.   Parcel A is the little square box outlined in yellow at the top of the map.  That little area is about 1/3 mile long by 1/2 mile wide.

A photo of the Ken Caryl North Hogback open space area on the right, and the South tip of Parcel A, on the left. If you squint you can see the 4th of July trail going up to the saddle of the hogback on the left.

The driveway cutting through Parcel A is a non-exclusive easement for the use of the owner of the property at 99 North Ranch Road.  The easement’s sole allowed purpose is ingress\egress to the property from North Ranch Road.  The property is not within the Ken Caryl Ranch homeowners association or Metro District.

The previous owner of 99 NRR filed a lawsuit against the Ken Caryl Master Association and Ken Caryl Metro District which resulted in KCR paying them $50,000 and also agreeing to pay to remove the fence along the easement in 2006.  KCR originally installed the fence to keep ATV’s from running through the meadow (a good thing).  The lawsuit alleged that the fence ruined the view of the easement owner, among many other things.  The settlement also allowed the easement owner to install a private, electric gate, security camera and keypad\intercom in the open space to keep unauthorized vehicles from accessing the driveway.

So to recap, a legal settlement made by Ken Caryl Ranch and the prior owner of 99 NRR agreed that there should be no fence in this open space – because it ruined the views.

The private electric gate, security camera and intercom\keypad on the south end of Parcel A

So it’s all settled and working as agreed in 2006, right?

For 11 years this arrangement was working fine, but fast forward to 2017.  There is a new owner of 99 North Ranch Road.  The new owner has decided that they want a fence surrounding their driveway easement, in direct contradiction to the legal settlement requiring the fence to be removed.  This would be two wooden-post and wire fences, one on each side of the easement, running down the middle of the entire meadow for 1/3 mile.  You can read the reasons they give for “needing” a fence here.

What a fence will look like

 

The end of North Ranch Road, and the private gravel driveway. There’s a private gate there where the circle turnaround is.  Does this look like it needs a fence?

I already mentioned that Parcel A connects to the other hogback open spaces running 4 miles to the South all the way to Deer Creek Canyon.  More important to note is that none of the other 4 miles of hogback open space has fencing along the roads that exist in the meadows between the big and small hogbacks. These roads are used by hikers, bikers and for maintenance and emergency vehicles.  Parcel A would be the only section with a fence.  And that fence will be behind a closed, private gate.  And on our public land, not the property of the person that wants to put up the fence.  The easement itself allows a 50-foot wide area to be used to access the property at 99 North Ranch Road.

To-date there have been no public notices or hearings about this proposed fence.

Jeffco was contacted and originally gave an approval for this fence, again, without public notice.  And now Jeffco has made the same poor decision, with the agreement of Ken Caryl Master Association.  For some reason, Ken Caryl is cooperating with this non-Ken Caryl resident to design a “more appropriate” fence, instead of opposing the fence.  Perhaps they are still gun shy after losing the lawsuit with the previous owner in 2006?  It’s impossible to know why Ken Caryl is supporting this fence, because there has been no public communication about their position.

It’s impossible to know why Ken Caryl is supporting this fence, because there has been no public communication about their position, on a matter which reverses the legal settlement we made in 2006 and that cost Ken Caryl $100,000 or more in legal fees and payments to the property owner.

The fence is clearly intended to exclude the public and will restrict and discourage use of the open space.  It will be visually ugly, seriously impacting the scenic nature of the open space meadow.  It will also make it appear that the easement area belongs to the easement owner, which it most certainly does not.  This is what’s known as a “non-exclusive easement”, meaning the easement owner can use the area to access their property, but cannot restrict the use or rights of the property owner (Jeffco and Ken Caryl).  This is public property – the taxpayers of Ken Caryl MD lease it from Jeffco and we pay to maintain it and insure it – for everyone’s enjoyment.  The easement owner is not part of Ken Caryl Ranch homeowners and does not pay taxes or dues to Ken Caryl.

Finally, here is what a legal document has to say about this open space, from Jeffco’s actual deed to the property:

the only structures allowed on the property must be “integral to or necessary for serving….open space purposes, with recreational, wildlife, habitat and scenic uses.”

No one from Jeffco or Ken Caryl has ever explained how this fence fits within the definition above or is in the public interest in any way.

Ken Caryl has 4 miles of hogback open space, with access roads for maintenance and emergency vehicles (similar to this driveway) with no fencing.  Why does this Northern-most parcel need a fence?

This fence is an insult to the idea of “open space”, and will turn our valuable open space into someone else’s impressive private driveway.

See the contact information below to let your board representatives know that Ken Caryl should oppose any fencing of this beautiful meadow.

 

Jefferson County Open Space

To email Jeffco Open Space directly, use this page on their website

(303) 271-5925 – tell them you oppose the fence in Parcel A

President of the Master Association:

Seth Murphy:  seth_murphy@hotmail.com, 970-485-0894

President of the Ken Caryl Metropolitan District:

Lauri Lehan-Milano:  laurim@kcranch.org, 303-948-1967

And please sign the petition!