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Court allows continued big game hunting in Castle Pines

Article by Terri Wiebold and photo by Tim Gamble

Court allows continued big game hunting in Castle Pines; imposes restrictions

Nearly one year following the Castle Pines Homes Association, Inc.’s (CPHA) filing of a complaint for an injunctive relief to prohibit hunting with firearms on 88 acres of land nestled in the Castle Pines community, District Court Judge Richard B. Caschette ruled to deny the request for a permanent injunction, imposing only conditions and restrictions for hunting on the property. This ruling supersedes the Court’s December 9, 2008 ruling in favor of a temporary injunction.

“The Court’s decision is dictated by the elements of a private civil nuisance, which are ‘an intentional, negligent, or unreasonably dangerous activity resulting in the unreasonable and substantial interference with the plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of [its] property,’” as stated in Caschette’s October 2, 2009, ruling on the motion for injunctive relief.

On November 18, 2009, Caschette set forth the conditions and restrictions for hunting on the property which included establishing no-shoot buffer zones, requiring hunters’ adherence to the principles taught in hunter education and safety courses, limiting the number of hunters at any given time, requiring supervision by a hunt coordinator, mandating the property owner to obtain additional insurance, and instructing the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) to monitor and ensure compliance.

The land in question is thirteen collective parcels of property which form a triangular piece of land between I-25 and Castle Pines Village. Due north lies approximately 343 acres that are contiguous with the southern boundary of the Lagae Ranch in the City of Castle Pines North. Bordering I-25 to the east, Happy Canyon Road to the south, and Country Club Drive in Castle Pines Village to the west, the property is less than one half mile across, east to west, and is slightly more than one half mile north to south.

The parcels of the property are owned by Paul W. King and/or Nancy M. King and/or their trusts. According to court documents, the hunting of elk and deer has occurred on the King property since approximately 1947. More recently, however, the Kings have run a small operation allowing hunters to hunt elk and deer on the property.

“We are elated that we won the court case,” said Paul King. “This has been a costly ordeal for both sides, much more so for the homeowners, I am sure.”

Following the Court’s December 2008 granting of a temporary injunction prohibiting hunting on the property, the DOW filed a motion to intervene as defendant in the case and moved for dismissal. While the court granted the DOW’s motion to intervene, it denied the motion to dismiss and scheduled permanent injunction hearings for July and August 2009.

Nineteen witnesses were called to testify during the proceedings, including representatives from the Castle Pines Homes Association, the Castle Pines Metropolitan District, the City of Castle Pines North, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the Douglas County School District, the Division of Wildlife, firearms experts, and Paul King himself.

Based on the evidence presented and the DOW’s recommendation that hunting be allowed to continue, the court found that “hunting on the King property does not create an unreasonably dangerous activity which should serve as the basis for permanent injunctive relief.” The Court additionally found that “a threat of future harm alone is not the proper basis for a nuisance claim.”

CPHA President Ed Will says this is a partial victory for the residents in the Castle Pines community. “The increased safety of the residents has always been our biggest concern,” said Will. “I want the public to be aware of this court order that allows hunting on a limited basis. It is my belief that the Division of Wildlife, because of their limited resources and their clear bias toward hunting and toward the Kings, will not be vigilant in enforcing this order,” he said.

Will continued to say, “We [the Homes Association] would like the public to be aware of the restrictions imposed by the court so they [residents] can notify the Homes Association and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office of violations.”

According to King, the hunting season runs through the end of January and he intends to continue to allow hunting on the property. “We will start the hunting again in the coming days, as soon as I can get things together,” said King. When asked if there would be hunting before the end of the 2009 season, King replied, “Oh, very much so.”

For more information regarding the Court’s ruling or to learn more specifics about the restrictions and conditions set forth in the order, contact Castle Pines Homes Association General Manager Mark Larson at 303-814-1345 or e-mail contact by e-mail.

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