In 1999, the owner of the Valley Floor at Telluride, Colo.'s edge presented a plan for developing the property now under dispute. The San Miguel Valley Corp. wanted to build a hotel/condo cluster of 300,000-400,000 square feet, with retail and parking, an 18-hole golf course and two small lakes. (Source: "Valley Floor Anthology", a 2006 publication put out by Rhonda Claridge, a Telluride resident. For more info, call Valley Floor Preservation Partners (970) 728-8256)
In 2001, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Valley Floor outside Telluride as one of the 11 Most Endangered Places in America. On April 11, 2007, the National Trust issued a call to supporters to donate to the preservation effort.
http://www.nationaltrust.org/11Most/list.asp?i=47, and http://www.nationaltrust.org/telluride/
The Valley Floor property that the community wants to conserve consists
of approximately 570 acres located to the south of the Highway 145
Spur, the east-west road that leads into Telluride. Additionally,
there are 121 acres located to the north of the Spur, and 20 acres
located at Society Turn, at the southwest corner formed by the intersection
of Highway 145 and the Spur. The current effort to save the property
is focused exclusively on the 570-acre parcel. (http://www.valleyfloor.org/timeline.html)
In 2004, at the direction of voters, the Town of Telluride began condemnation
proceedings of the 570-acre parcel for the purpose of preserving it
for open space. The land owner, San Miguel Valley Corp., appealed
the action to state District Court that same year.
In that same year, the Colorado Legislature passed a law that barred condemnation for the purpose of open space acquisition. The law was written to retroactively affect Telluride.
In 2006, Telluride voters reaffirmed their support of the condemnation, directing the Town government to reject a negotiated settlement that would have put 22 homes smack in the middle of the meadow. (http://www.telluridegateway.com/articles/2006/02/15/news/news01.txt)
In February 2007, a District Court jury in Delta, Colo. set the price tag for the property at $50 million, just $1 million less than the property owner, San Miguel Valley Corporation, said the property was worth. The Town of Telluride had argued the property was worth $26 million. (http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_5263111)
As of April 24, 1,480 people had donated to the preservation effort.
The largest gift was for $5 million. There have also been gifts of
$1.5 million, $1.25 million and two gifts of $1 million. Thirteen hundred people have donated $5,000 or less. Donations have come
from 130 cities in 43 states and 7 countries. (source: Valley Floor Preservation Partners.
The Town of Telluride has committed to spend $25.5 million of public open space funding on the effort. That amount is a combination of cash and debt.
All of the donated money will go to purchase the land. Since it's creation in early 2006, the Valley Floor Preservation Partners has been funded by a fund set up by a founders circle. So they have collected $22 million in donations on a budget of approximately $200,000. (source: Valley Floor Preservation Partners. (970) 728-8256)
A community Wishing Well has generated close to $1 million in contributions since March 2007. Most of the donations have been made by community members. In one week, community businesses rallied to raise over $140,000, which was matched by a valley donor. (http://www.telluridedailyplanet.com/articles/2007/04/03/letters_to_the_editor/letters02.txt)
The legal battle over the property between the owner, San Miguel Valley Corporation, and the community has taken several fronts.
In 2004, the Colorado Legislature passed a law specifically barring Telluride and other communities around the state from using their eminent domain powers to seize land outside their borders for anything. Gov. Bill Owens signed the bill into law.
The town appealed the law on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. A District Court judge agreed, ruling the town, as a home-rule style government had the authority under Colorado's constitution to condemn the valley floor for preservation purposes.
The town and San Miguel Valley Corporation entered into court-ordered negotiations. A settlement offer resulting from those talks was rejected by voters in February 2006 by a 58-42 percent margin.
In March 2007, the San Miguel Valley Corporation filed an appeal of the District Court ruling on the unconstitutionality of the 2004 law. It is currently before the Colorado Supreme Court. (http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_5543408)