Monday, December 17, 2012

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Trails Open -- For Now -- Despite Fencing

It would be delightful to see some community minded citizen (or outdoor recreation-oriented group) file a test lawsuit seeking a judicial determination of Peterson's property rights vis-a-vis those of the general public, no?

Ogden City's neighbor to the east, Chris "Gondola Boy" Peterson, is back in the local news again after a long lull, with yesterday's Standard-Examiner story, reporting that "[f]ence structures that have been popping up along trails in the Ogden foothills have the hiking community worried, but the landowner [Peterson] who put them there says he’s keeping his property open to the public":
Ogden trails eyesore
Although Peterson attributes his ghastly new fencing and signage to "littering, tagging, destruction of natural landscape and other irresponsible trail behavior," odds are that Peterson's action has as much more to do with long-standing technical legal issues than the current trail user behavioral problems he's complaining about, inasmuch as the lingering issue of whether the public owns a prescriptive easement upon the trails of his Malan's Basin property remains yet unresolved.  In this connection, this thorny subject has been broached on Weber County Forum in the past, and is neatly framed by an earlier reader comment, posted beneath this 6/8/2010 WCF article:
This Land is My Land: Hate to break it to you "observer from the south," but Peterson's Malan's Basin and westerly trails property likely remains subject to long-standing "public prescriptive easements" which went into effect long before Peterson acquired these properties.
His "predecessor in title," i.e., the Malan family, basically gave "carte blanche" to otherwise "trespassers" for over 100 years, a period far exceeding the period required for adverse possession under Utah law.
The poor schmuck Peterson will no doubt have a hard time, legally, shutting the public out from prescriptive easement rights which were perfected no later than the early part of the 20th century.
If this Peterson idiot tries to impair my public easement rights in any way... he'll have to see me in court.
“Our interest is obviously in keeping these trails open and easily accessible to the community..." Says Mayor Mike Caldwell. Caldwell's right, of course, at least insofar as he recognizes that unrestricted East Bench Trail access is indispensable to Ogden's recreational needs.

For those WCF readers who'd like to "bone up" on Utah real property rights in general, and the legal effect of prescriptive easements in particular, check out the below-linked Utah Department of Commerce manual, which addresses the issue of prescriptive easements thusly: "You have no right to prohibit public use of a trail or road across your private property as a thoroughfare if the public has created the thoroughfare without permission and without interruption for a period of ten years as a prescriptive easement":
It would thus be delightful to see some community minded citizen (or outdoor recreation oriented group) file a test lawsuit seeking a judicial determination of Peterson's property rights vis-a-vis those of the general public, to settle the "hanging"  "prescriptive easement problem" once and for all, no?

So who'll be the first to chime in on this subject?


Guest said...

Frankly, the Billionaire's idiot son-in-law is so obviously mentally deficient, that I'd  surprised if the Sinclair Oil execs haven't already designated a "legal hit-squad" to keep him from inheriting anything under billionaire  Earl Holder's will.

Ernie The Attorney said...

Easy solution for Mayor Caldwell, who seems to recognize the importance of Ogden East Bench trail access:

Take Peterson's Malan's Basin project by eminent domain.

Freeride70 said...

Pretty sure eminent domain for trails isn't legal...yet. You would have seen it all over the bench if it were.

Disgusted said...

The last thing you would want the Mayor to do is an eminent domain on the property. By doing that then the property becomes part of the city and Peterson could then ask the city to provide services for the property, i.e. water and sewer. The eminent domain card would play right into Peterson’s hand of developing the property at some point.

rudizink said...

 You're confusing the concepts of "annexation" and "condemnation," perhaps?  After an eminent domain "taking," Peterson would be divested of his property ownership, of course.

Post a Comment

© 2005 - 2014 Weber County Forum™ -- All Rights Reserved