How to Take Your Neighbors' Property for Free

November 21 2007, 7:39 PM

Leave it to a former Judge to figure out how to take a stretch of property belonging to his neighbor, thereby preventing the neighbor and his wife from building their retirement dream house on the property. Through an arcane property law concept called "adverse possession", if a person uses even a portion of your property for a long period of time, rather than being deemed a trespasser, he can make a claim to the land. That's just what former Boulder Judge Richard McClean and his wife did to their neighbors, who had purchased the land with an eye towards retirement. Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi recaps the case, then blasts eminent domain laws here and today writes of another couple facing an eminent domain dispute in Parker. I'm with Harsanyi on this. I have a friend who battled Pitkin County for years over its insistence that his house was a historical property, preventing him from selling it to someone who wanted to tear it down. It was no Victorian, reminiscent of the mining days. It was a non-descript, small house built during WWII. The story had a happy ending -- Aspen got the property but they had to pay $3.5 million for it -- but the fight was long, expensive and took an emotional toll. These arcane laws need to be changed. There needs to be fewer trump cards played against private property owners.

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