- Oprah Winfrey’s LLC bought a 66-acre property in Telluride for $10.85m
- Public hiking trails have crossed the land for decades but now her neighbor is filing a lawsuit for fear that access is being cut off
- The couple that sold the land to the media mogul went back to the town’s land council to get ‘clarifications’ on the language about the trails
New face in the neighborhood: Oprah Winfrey bought a 66-acre plot of land for $10.85million
A retired nuclear physicist has filed a lawsuit because he feels that his new neighbor, Oprah Winfrey, is planning to cut off access to public hiking trails.
Charles Goodman has filed a lawsuit against a host of individuals involved in the sale of 66-acres of land next to his Telluride, Colorado summer home to the media mogul.
Winfrey purchased the ski-in, ski-out property in March for $10.85million under one of her subsidiary companies, Yellow Brick Road CO LLC, and now their last-minute dealings to make changes to the long-respected public trail agreements is under new scrutiny.
‘I don’t care if Oprah is a neighbor, but if she is going to cut off access to trails, I don’t find that acceptable,’ Mr Goodman told The Denver Post.
Winfrey is expected to build a main mansion on the property as well as a guest house, but that is not the only construction that is due to start in the coming months.
Between 800 and 1,000 trees will be cut from the property, a new bridge will be built over a ski run to allow easier access and new roads will be paved.
Mr Goodman’s lawsuit does not take issue with any of the architect’s plans, but pertains specifically to the predicted prevention of access to the long-public hiking trails.
The 86-year-old physicist bought his home in the development in 1972 and he was one of the driving forces to create hiking trails in the property that sits next to the development.
Under dispute: Dr Goodman has filed a suit over the potential changes to the public rights access to hiking trails he helped establish in the area near his home
Incursion: One of the public trails that runs through the 66 acres Winfrey purchased is Galloping Goose Trail
‘Yellow Brick Road CO LLC will continue to work with the residents of the Ski Ranches HOA to enable them to have reasonable access over portions of the company’s recently acquired property for recreational trail use,’ Yellow Brick Road spokeswoman Wendy Luckenbill told The Denver Post via email.
Taking issue: Charles Goodman, a retired nuclear physicist, has owned a summer home next to Winfrey’s new lot since 1972 and helped found the trails in 1989
‘It is our hope that we can work together on a usage plan that is mutually agreeable.’
The Denver Post reports that in 1989, when the trails were created, the land belonged to the U.S. Forest Service.
The land was later given to Telluride Ski Co. but only under the provision that the trails would remain open to the public and not hindered in any way.
Since then, the land was legally redistricted so that it became a part of the neighboring town, Mountain Village, and parts- including the property that Oprah went on to purchase- were sold to individuals who wished to build homes.
Oprah’s specific land went to Hoyt and Carol Barnett who bought the land in the 1990s. Throughout all of the turnovers, there was always specific language that preserves public access to the trails.
That included a 2005 re-mapping of the area while still under the Barnett’s ownership, where the trails were incorporated into the map.
Mr Goodman has included the Barnetts in his lawsuit because they allegedly asked to change the stipulations to that 2005 document, called a plat, before selling the land to Oprah’s company but without notifying any of the residents- including Goodman- who would be effected.
‘One month before Oprah closed on the property, the rights of way disappeared entirely,’ Mr Goodman’s lawyer Robert Korn told The Denver Post.
Familiar: Oprah Winfrey first bought property in the area in 1994 when she purchased this cabin in with a view of the San Juan Mountains
Out in nature: Telluride, Colorado draws visitors throughout the year with skiers in winter and hikers in the summer, and the public access to hiking trails is a major part of the tourism industry in the area
Local districting officials argued that when they were approached by the TV mogul’s legal team ahead of the March sale, they only clarified the language used in the 2005 ‘replatting’ and did not inherently change the public access rights.
‘The town is supportive of continued access to Prospect Basin. And we are working with (Winfrey’s) team, and it is pretty clear they want to continue access,’ Mountain Village director of community development Chris Hawkins told The Denver Post.
Mr Hawkins and the Mountain village mayor are also named in Mr Goodman’s lawsuit, as well as the Barnetts and Winfrey’s Yellow Brick Road Co.
One of the trails that Mr Goodman argues is under seige is Galloping Goose Trail, which extends for 6.7 miles and is used by hikers, bikers, and joggers who don’t mind a bit of elevation with their daily run.
Lover of land: Oprah Winfrey bought this 41-acre property in Montecito, California for $50million in 2001 (pictured)
Different climates: Winfrey also owns an estate in Kula, Hawai