The case came about when the owner of some mining claims near Silverton Mountain Resort \ sued Aaron Brill, the SMR owner, claiming that Brill was trespassing on his property and littering it with avalanche-control debris. The owner of the mining claims made the following claim in court, i.e., he “does object to any intrusion on his land simply to enhance the skiing experience for skiers that Aaron Brill has brought to Silverton Mountain or only to facilitate the private skiers' access to, or egress from, the mountain.” (Wow! That sounds just like Chapman!) It was noted, however, that at the public hearings on whether to condemn the private mining claims, most members of the public who spoke “generally do not like condemnation, but they saw no other way to handle this case.” i.e., it was necessary in order for private skiers to access and/or egress from the mountain. The county voted to condemn the land and pay a fair value for it so that the ski area could expand and the safety of the skiers could be assured.
There is a direct parallel between what took place in neighboring San Juan County and what Chapman is trying to do with his mining claims, here. There is much case law that supports the condemnation of private property for the benefit of public and commercial interests. Stadiums are built through condemnation of private land, and in neighboring San Juan County, the Silverton Mountain Resort was able to expand through the necessary use of condemnation, as well. Whereas nobody likes egregious use of public condemnation, skiing is the lifeblood of this part of San Miguel county, and this is one of those rare instances that condemnation should be considered. I say this not just for the private, back-country skiers who feel entitled to ski on public lands whom are now being precluded from doing so, but also for the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., which, in the competitive climate of ski resorts today, needs this addition to continue to attract skiers. Telluride Ski Resort's ability to offer guided back-country skiing is its competitive advantage. Failing to do so will be a competitive disadvantage, and will, surely, negatively impact everyone who relies on the ski economy in this part of the county. I encourage our commissioners to hold public hearings to discuss our right of eminent domain so that the public, including private skiers and the owner of the ski area may continue to legally ski in the Bear Creek Basin and Mr. Chapman can be paid a fair value for his land.
– Neal Elinoff