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Ritter approves 'land grab' bill

Adverse possession law set to change

Beginning July 1, people hoping to use "adverse possession" to take control of another person's land had better be prepared to pay for it, thanks to a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Bill Ritter.

Ritter gave final approval to House Bill 1148, which modifies the longtime legal concept that allows trespassers to claim another's land after using it openly and continuously for at least 18 years.

The bill, which garnered wide bipartisan support among state lawmakers, requires that an adverse possessor believe in "good faith" that the land is actually his or her own. It also raises the burden of proof in an adverse-possession case and gives judges the power to make plaintiffs payfor any land they are awarded.

Rep. Rob Witwer, R-Evergreen, and Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder, co-sponsored the bill, which was crafted in the wake of a controversial Boulder land dispute.

Richard McLean and Edith Stevens sued neighbors Don and Susie Kirlin in 2006 using adverse possession. In October, the former district court judge and attorney won their case -- and 34 percent of the Kirlins' vacant, next-door lot.

"I'm just so impressed and happy with the Colorado Legislature," Don Kirlin said. "The fact that they were able to change a law so that no one would have to endure what we went through ... is pretty monumental."

Witwer on Friday said the bill is a victory for property owners.

"This will make it harder to abuse adverse-possession law," he said. "Frankly, it should have been done decades ago. But it's better late than never."

Earlier this month, Ritter signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, which -- beginning Aug. 6 -- will require Colorado district and county court judges to step down from cases involving other current or former judges within the same district when requested.

Levy said she sponsored her bill in reaction to the Kirlin case.


Posted by katiekurt on April 26, 2008 at 5:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Good news!

Posted by LightningRose on April 26, 2008 at 8:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

To all the dumb as dirt conservatives who think the McLean/Stevens land grab was a product of the so called "Boulder Democratic Machine", let me point out that in the 40 years the Repuglicans controlled the Colorado legislature absolutely no efforts were made to change or overturn the adverse possession law.

Posted by jgarcia on April 26, 2008 at 8:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, very good news! Rep. Rob Witwer, you have showed great leadership on this matter. Hats off to you.

Posted by rayq on April 26, 2008 at 8:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"This will make it harder to abuse adverse-possession law," he said. "Frankly, it should have been done decades ago. But it's better late than never."

This whole "much ado about nothing" demonstrates how wrong it was to do a land grab of the Kirlins property. The landgrabbers and their supporters are 100% wrongheaded.
P.S. Anyone know anything about Andrew Low's response to the response. It was due 4/24.

Posted by rayq on April 26, 2008 at 8:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)


Most of us bloggers know that the McLean/Stevens land grab was a product of McLean/Stevens. I don't give much credence to the "small minds". Keep on, keeping on.

Posted by BoulderConfidential on April 26, 2008 at 12:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Colorado 1 Mclean/Stevens/Hult 0

Congrats to outgoing Sen. Ron Tupa, Democrat from Boulder
You will be sorely missed as big money and business seeks to get elected to your seat.

Posted by urie_h on April 26, 2008 at 6:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Rayq, The response is due May 9. We'll bring you an update then. Thanks, Heath Urie

Posted by rayq on April 26, 2008 at 7:44 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks Ray Q.

Posted by mrw650 on April 27, 2008 at 9:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, well, well...this serves a notice to M/S that if they are shopping for a pardon once they're found guilty of perjury and fabrication of evidence, I doubt Gov. Ritter will sign it--that is, if he values his future in politics!

And in answer to Lightning Rose: legislatures, no matter what party controls them, are reluctant to change existing laws, unless it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt (as in this extreme case) that a law is being abused or used in a way that was never intended.

I would say the Colorado legislature finally had enough of those elitist bullies, and won one for We the People this time. I commend them and Gov. Ritter for their courage.

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