Access to Conejos River denied by homeowners and association

CONEJOS COUNTY — In yet another saga of members of a homeowner’s association has emerged. This time in Horca, 17 miles west of Antonito in Conejos County.

Isaac and Christi Dean purchased a cabin in the neighborhood in 2008 to be used as a get-away from their businesses in Sante Fe, N.M.  Isaac is a mechanical plumber and Christi a massage therapist. When they purchased the property there had been a structure built in 2002 on top of an easement used for the public to access fishing in the Conejos River. However, it was never a problem accessing the river until recently.

According to Christi Dean, approximately three months ago the property owners where the access trail is located, claimed the Dean family was trespassing. However, Christi Dean said that the association bylaws state that members can access “common area” owned by the association for the “common use and enjoyment of the owners” of the association.

Since then, Dean said the other landowners, Howard and Barbara Todd, blocked the access trail to the river. It was eventually reopened, but a fence was installed with no trespassing signs posted.

Dean said Conejos County did approve a building permit for the structure on the easement. But what was built was not what was applied for she added. The permit was for a one-story garage, but there is a two-car garage with a living unit upstairs.

She said a permit was filed with the Army Corp of Engineers because the garage was also built in a wetland area. Dean believed the application permit was incomplete, so the Corp denied the application. The Corp did investigate the issue of the garage on the easement and in a wetland, but was unable to take any action, because of the statute of limitations had expired, Dean stated.

At a meeting in early June, Dean said the association board members said that the Todd’s were worried about liability issues and wanted a waiver from everyone using the access trail and “possibly get everyone to pay $1 to use the easement. We wanted [the board] to know it was not necessary. That’s HOA property, that’s common property,” she said.

The Deans also brought up the issue of the Todd’s posting “Keep Out No Trespassing” signs that are against the bylaws. Dean said the issue was left unresolved because the board didn’t bring any facts, including the bylaws, to the meeting.

A second meeting with the HOA, June 21 was held, and the Deans were the only invitees. A portion of that meeting has been posted YouTube ( where association board members would not listen to what Isaac Dean had to say. Instead, they talked over him and finally called a halt to the entire discussion.

When contacted, Barbara Todd declined to comment on the issue and referred the Courier to the homeowner’s association. Ruby Sanderson, president of the HOA, never returned the call to the Courier.


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