Valley Floor Timeline
8000 B.C.- The last glacier withdrew from the Valley Floor opening the valley to future habitation.
Late 1500’s- Introduction of the horse to the Utes by the Spanish allowed summer residence on the Valley Floor by the San Juan natives. The first second-homers here probably numbered about 600.
1700’s- French trappers and Spanish explorers first ventured into the SW San Juans.
1868- Utes signed a treaty with U.S. government that granted them 400,000 acres, including the Valley Floor, “so long as the grasses grow and the waters flow.”
1872- Linnard Remine prospected for gold on Valley Floor.
1873- U.S. government broke 1872 treaty with the Utes and forced them from their land.
1874- John Fallon discovers gold in Marshall Basin.
1877- San Miguel City founded on site of present day Brown Homestead.
1885- First plat filed for new town of Columbia, later named Telluride.
1914- The first mine tailings reached the Valley Floor compliments of Cornet Creek flood.
1930- Joe Oberto began to buy pieces of the patchwork claims on the Valley Floor.
1940’s- The Valley Floor is first used as a site for tailing storage.
1967- Joe Oberto sold his Valley Floor property to Newmont Mining, owner of Idarado, for $300,000. Idarado stated that it intended to store more tailings on the land. Telluride rallied to prevent such use.
1971- Colorado required all counties to create planning commissions and adopt master plans. Idarado’s Telluride mine closed.
1979- The San Miguel County Commissioners and the Telluride Town Council, by joint resolution, established the Telluride Regional Planning Advisory Committee (TRPAC). TRPAC was comprised of six representatives of government (three from San Miguel County and three from Telluride), one representative from each of the six major landowners in the area, including the owner of the Valley Floor, and six members of the public. TRPAC was formed to explore and suggest ways to implement the County’s Master Plan, which had been adopted in 1978.
March 1981- The TRPAC report set forth recommendations for bringing regional zoning in line with the County Master Plan and included density guidelines within each sub-region of the Telluride Region, designed to provide guidance for future zoning and development decisions.
January 29, 1982- The San Miguel County Board of Commissioners adopted the PUD-R zone district on the recommendations of the TRPAC recommendations.
March 15, 1982- The 860 acres then-owned by Telluride Valley Corporation (TVC) was zoned PUD-R zone district by the Board of County Commissioners. The PUD-R zoning designation allocated to the TVC property a collective density of 1,770 people, two-thirds of which was designated to the South Side. This density figure was calculated using formulas for number of persons per type of dwelling or hotel/lodging unit. The South Side was allocated two high-density development pods, one for 200 lodge units on a 10-acre site ad one for 600 lodge units on a 5-acre site. Pursuant to the language of the PUD-R zone district ordinance, for the purpose of calculating allowable density, each lodge unit equaled 1.5 people, for a total of 1200 people allocated to the South Side.
December 28, 1983- Cordillera Corporation (Cordillera), San Miguel Valley Corporation’s (SMVC) predecessor in interest, purchased approximately 860 acres of real property in the Telluride area from Telluride Valley Corporation. Of those 860 acres, approximately 714 acres are located immediately west of Telluride and are commonly referred to as “the Valley Floor.” The Valley Floor consists of 573 acres located to the south of the Highway 145 Spur (the east-west road that leads into Telluride, “the Spur”), 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. These parcels are commonly referred to respectively as “the South Side,” “the North Side,” and “the Society Turn parcel.”
1985- Telluride began negotiating with Cordillera to locate a new sewage treatment plant on the Society Turn Parcel. Cordillera proposed a land exchange whereby it would give Telluride a total of 15.5 acres (a 3.5 acre sewer plant site on the Society Turn Parcel, plus 12 acres near Town) in exchange for a 9.5-acre parcel located in the middle of Cordillera’s property on the South Side, on which Telluride’s old sewer lagoons were located. However, Telluride preferred an outright purchase of the site and declined Cordillera’s proposal to exchange land.
April 1986- Negotiations between Cordillera and Telluride regarding the acquisition of the plant site collapsed. Thereafter, Telluride initiated procedures to condemn a new sewer treatment plant site on the Society Turn Parcel (Sewer Treatment Plant Site) using its power of eminent domain.
September 2, 1986- Telluride agreed to forego condemnation based upon the negotiated settlement it had reached with Cordillera, which was memorialized in the Society Turn Sewer Treatment Plant Agreement between Telluride and Cordillera. Under the terms of the Agreement, which was essentially a land exchange, Cordillera conveyed the Sewer Treatment Plant Site to Telluride, along with certain other property and easements, and in turn Telluride conveyed the old sewer lagoon site (located in the middle of the South Side) to Cordillera. Under Section 11 of this Agreement, language states that “It is the specific intent of the District and the Town to not interfere with one another as to their present and/or future needs for sewage treatment and both parties acknowledge the right of either party.”
April 19, 1993- The April Fools fax. An SMVC memo mistakenly faxed to SMC Planning Dept. outlines the possibility of draining wetlands to create more developable land and buying The Telluride Times Journal, presumably to control communication and public sentiment.
1993- The so-called “20 Percent Solution” is adopted by the Telluride Town Council to create public funds for open space preservation. 896 public votes are cast on the ballot question with 61 percent in favor.
1995- The Community Planning Advisory Commission (CPAC) was formed, comprised of major landowners, government officials and citizens.
1996- A Community Works study, ordered by CPAC, recommended 1,770 people on the Valley Floor, including a 400-person hotel, golf course and 200 people on the South Side. The recomendations were not accepted or enacted by town council or county commissioners.
December 1999- SMVC updates development plans that include a large hotel complex, golf course, gondola, condos and retail.
June 13, 2000- SMVC representatives made a presentation to the Mountain Village Town Council concerning annexing the Valley Floor to Mountain Village.
June 26, 2000- The Telluride Town Council unanimously directed Town staff to begin immediate work on appraisals, legal descriptions and boundary surveys of the Valley Floor for the express purpose of condemning the Valley Floor.
July 3, 2000- 1,500 people formed a human chain extending from town to the Valley Floor at the Rally for the Valley.
August 15, 2000- SMVC Senior Vice-President, Johnny Stevens, advised the Mountain Village Mayor and Council that SMVC would suspend its efforts to annex the Valley Floor to Mountain Village.
2000- SMVC divided The North Side, the South Side and the Society Turn Parcel into 21 tracts consisting of approximately 35 acres each, presumably to convolute the condemnation process. SMVC retained ownership of 7 of the tracts. At that time, holding companies Alle Oop and Boomerang were vested with titles to 7 tracts each.
February 2001- An appraisal prepared by Chase and Company for Telluride valued SMVC land, less the airport parcel (714.14 acres), at $22.6 mm.
March 27, 2001- The San Miguel Headwaters Valley Floor Scientific Analysis conducted by Sustainable Ecosystems Institute found that the Valley Floor had retained its bio-integrity and supports the largest wetlands in the San Miguel river basin. The study found five new moth species and a new genus, and that the ecosystem could potentially host many endangered species such as the southwestern willow flycatcher and boreal toad.
March 2001- The San Miguel River Restoration Assessment, spearheaded by the San Miguel Watershed Coalition and prepared by the Trust for Land Restoration, identified the San Miguel as “one of the West’s few remaining hydrologically-intact watersheds.”
March 2001- The Telluride Town Council held a special work session to consider condemnation of the Valley Floor.
April 10, 2001- The Telluride Town Council passed Resolution No. 3, which authorized its condemnation counsel to proceed with a condemnation action to acquire 714.14 acres of the Valley Floor.
July 2001- The National Trust for Historic Preservation lists the Valley Floor as one of the 11 most endangered sites in the nation.
October 23, 2001- Following litigation initiated by Yogi Kirst, Doug Tueller and Bob Dempsy Telluride revoked Resolution No. 3 and passed in its place Ordinance 1157, which also authorized its condemnation counsel to exercise the power of eminent domain on behalf of Telluride, to condemn the same 714. 14 acres of the Valley Floor.
2002- SMVC representative offered to negotiate limited development with town council. The South Side preservation was not on the table, therefore, council voted not to pursue negotiations.
February 2002- Telluride Mayor John Steel released a memo outlining the basic terms of a possible moratorium agreement he negotiated with SMVC. The agreement called for suspension of condemnation efforts for two years in return for SMVC’s suspension of all development plans.
March 2002- Sheep Mountain Alliance (SMA), a local environmental group, filed an initiated condemnation ordinance with the Town that sought to condemn 570 acres of the South Side.
May 16, 2002- The Telluride Town Council repealed Ordinance 1157. The initiated SMA condemnation ordinance approved by Telluride’s electorate at the special election was scheduled for June 25, 2002. Telluride intended to condemn the 570 acres of the South Side identified in the initiated condemnation ordinance.
June 2002- Telluride voted to acquire the South Side of the Valley Floor through condemnation. Votes were 609 in favor, 385 opposed.
July 24, 2002- Town filed a Notification of Intent to Acquire the 570-acre parcel with the District Court.
August 9, 2002- SMVC filed a motion that stated Telluride breached the Sewage Treatment Plant Agreement on the basis that the Town of Telluride refused to provide sewage treatment service to SMVC due to the condemnation action.
August 2002- Town filed a motion to dismiss SMVC’s Complaint alleging breach of contract.
November 2002- Telluride voted 505–326 to authorize the creation of $9.9 million of new debt for the Valley Floor acquisition.
August 2003- The District Court dismissed SMVC’s complaint of the breach of contract.
August 2003- A new appraisal by Chase and Company valued the Valley Floor at $19.3 million. SMVC’s appraisal prepared by National Valuation came in at $48.2 million.
October 2003- Telluride made a “good faith offer” to buy 570 acres of the Valley Floor for $19.5 million. The offer was turned down by SMVC who claimed the offer was in “bad faith.”
December 3, 2003- District Court Judge Charles Greenacre additionally awarded attorney fees and litigation costs to the Town from the Breach of Contract claim.
January 2004- The Telluride Town Council voted unanimously to file a legal action condemning the Valley Floor.
January 2004- SMVC appealed Judge Greenacre’s Breach of Contract ruling with the Colorado Court of Appeals.
March 26, 2004- Telluride officially filed a Petition for Condemnation in District Court.
June 4, 2004 – Governor Owens signed H.B. 1203, containing the so-called “Telluride Amendment”. The bill outlawed home-rule municipalities from condemning property outside their borders for open space preservation. SMVC attorney Thomas Ragonetti was seen as the driving force behind the special purpose legislation that targeted Telluride’s condemnation efforts.
June 4, 2004 – SMVC filed an Answer and Counter Claim asking the court to dismiss the Condemnation Petition based on the new legislation.
June 24, 2004- The Town of Telluride filed a Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaim stating that H.B. 1203 is inapplicable, unenforceable, unlawful, and unconstitutional.
August 11, 2004- SMVC filed a Motion requesting a change of venue of the jury trial to another county.
October 2004- The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld Greenacre’s ruling against SMVC’s claim that Telluride breached the Sewage Treatment Plant Agreement, and awards the town their attorney fees and costs incurred during the appeal.
December 2004- Judge Greenacre set January 9, 2006 for the valuation trial and ordered mediation to be completed by Telluride and SMVC by no later than December 1, 2005. Neither party filed a motion to object.
January 2005- Judge Green acre ruled H.B. 1203 unconstitutional.
June 16, 2005- Judge Greenacre denied SMVC’s request for change of venue.
June 2005- A new appraisal of the Valley Floor by Chase and Company indicated a value of $26 million. National Valuation re-issued its appraisal for SMVC and assessed the property’s value at $51 million.
June 2005- Judge Greenacre ordered Telluride and SMVC into mediation.
December 2005- The Telluride Town Council presented the essential elements and framework of a mediated settlement involving limited development on the Valley Floor to the public.
January 2006- The Telluride Town Council adopted an ordinance approving the framework for settlement and called for a special election on February 14, 2006.
February 14, 2006- Telluride voted 603-439 to continue with condemnation of the Valley Floor over the settlement proposal.
March 2006 – The Town of Telluride, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Sheep Mountain Alliance and The Telluride Institute join together to create the Valley Floor Preservation Partners.
March 14, 2006- SMVC renewed their motion to change the venue of the jury trial to another county.
August 2006- Judge Greenacre ruled that SMVC is precluded from introducing any evidence or opinions of value or damages for either the Larger Parcel or the Condemnation Parcel that are based upon SMVC’s Alternative A or Alternative B concept plans through the use of the land residual method of valuation, either as a direct approach to value or as a test of reasonableness. In addition, he dismissed SMVC’s damage claims reducing their appraisal from $51 million to $50 million.
November 2, 2006 – Judge Greenacre issued a sealed ruling to change the venue for the February 2007 valuation trial from San Miguel County to Delta County, Colorado. Judge Greenacre will preside over the trial.
November 7, 2006 – Telluride voted 585-333 to approve an additional $10 million Open Space bond capacity increasing Town’s acquisition funds to $30 million.
January 18, 2007 – Judge Charles Greenacre ruled that the Landowner will be precluded from using or introducing in evidence a $26.3 million Mountain Village sale during the final valuation trial. The Court agreed with the Town that the parcels were not comparable and stated “Comparing the Mountain Village Sale to the Condemnation Parcel is akin to comparing subdivided property to raw land.”
February 5, 2007 – The valuation trial to determine the value of SMVC’s 570-acre parcel begins.
February 16, 2007- Jury returns with verdict, and awards SMVC $50 million for the Valley Floor. The award raised the VFPP private fundraising goal to $24.5 million.
March 14, 2007- District Court Judge Greenacre rules that the Town must deposit the total award with the court by May 21, 2007.
March 22, 2007- Local attorneys’ Bob Korn and John Steel file a Rule 59 Motion as interveners for the purpose of seeking a new trial.
March 27, 2007- SMVC filed a Notice of Appeal asking the Colorado Supreme Court to dismiss the October 6, 2004 Order denying SMVC’s Motion to Dismiss and granting the Town’s Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim, which held that H.B. 1203 was unconstitutional, and that the Town had the right to proceed with condemnation.
May 3, 2007- Judge Greenacre denies the intervention of attorneys’ Bob Korn and John Steel.
May 9, 2007- VFPP raises $24.5 million, $17 million of it in three months. Combined with Town funds, $50 million is deposited with the court. Telluride holds a press conference in Elk’s Park announcing the success of the fundriasing campaign and the deposit with the court.
May 22, 2007- District Court Judge Greenacre grants the Town’s Motion for Limited Possession during the appeal process. SMVC does not contest the motion.
January 22, 2008 – After a series of briefs filed by both the Town and SMVC, the Colorado Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case to determine if Telluride had the constitutional power of eminent domain to acquire the Valley Floor.
June 2, 2008 – The Colorado Supreme Court rendered their decision 6 to 1 in favor of the Town. As summarized in the decision “Because the General Assembly cannot deny home rule municipalities the eminent domain power conferred to them in the constitution, the court holds that subsection 4b (the Telluride Amendment) is unconstitutional with respect to home rule municipalities. The court thus concludes that Telluride’s condemnation of the property was lawful and affirms the judgment of the trial court.” Telluride celebrates in the streets and at an impromptu party in Elk’s Park all afternoon.
June 20, 2008 – District Court Judge Greenacre issued the final Rule and Order for the Condemnation Case filed on March 14, 2004 granting the Town of Telluride title to the 570-acre Valley Floor.
July 27, 2008 ¬– The Town of Telluride and the Valley Floor Preservation Partners celebrate one of the greatest conservation stories of all time with a Community Picnic on the Valley Floor.
January 2009 and beyond — Nordic skiers, snowshoers and other winter outdoor recreationalists host the first annual Valley Floor Moonlight Progressive Dinner on the Valley Floor.
March 21, 2009 — Ecological Resource Consultants releases the Valley Floor Environmental Report recommending the designation of management zones based on wildlife activity, ecologically sensitive areas and heavy recreation use areas. The report also recommended leaving the growing prairie dog colonies in place.
Aug. 4, 2009 — Telluride Town Council unanimously approved the Valley Floor Conservation Easement, held by the San Miguel Conservation Foundation. The Conservation Easement is a binding document that will preserve the Valley Floor as open space in perpetuity.
March 30, 2010 — Telluride annexes the 570-acre Valley Floor.
June 24, 2010 — The U.S. Forest Service initiates discussions with Idarado Mining Company to clean up tailings on the USFS parcel adjacent to the Valley Floor.
Aug. 3, 2010 — Town refinances the $20 million Valley Floor bond, locking in a 4.7 percent interest rate for 26 years, obligating a $1.3 million annual payment.
February 2011 — Town approves Valley Floor Trails and Conceptual Restoration Plan.
Nov. 5, 2013 — Voters approve ballot measure 2D, which would subdivide the 7.3-acre Pearl Property, the parcel of Town land immediately adjacent to east end of the Valley Floor. The “RV lot” is slated for public development and the undeveloped area is zoned Open Space and added to the Valley Floor Conservation Easement.
January 2015 — In conjunction with Mountain Studies Institute, the Town installs a weather station on the Valley Floor to monitor long-term climate trends.
Jan. 18, 2015 — San Miguel County commissioners approve the re-zoning of SMVC’s Mill Creek property on the north side of the spur across from the Valley Floor. The rezoning allows SMVC to proceed with the application for the development of a residential subdivision.
April 5, 2015 — An otter is spotted on the Pearl Property, a good sign that the Valley Floor ecosystem is rebounding and healthy.
May 26, 2015 — Emissaries from the Four Peoples of the Earth are “guided to the Valley Floor by Mother Earth” and inspired by Telluride’s effort to preserve this “sacred landscape”.
June 2015 — The Telluride Institute initiates the Valley Floor Living Classroom, a free, hands-on, educational series to help students and the public learn about the watershed.
September 15, 2015 — The Town approves the $1.7 million Reach One of the Valley Floor river restoration project to return 4,300 feet of the severely degraded San Miguel River to its original, meandering channel.
October 2016 — The 3-month river restoration construction project is completed.
Dec. 9, 2016 — San Miguel County Commissioners approve two new SMVC subdivisions. One, the 121-acre Mill Creek parcel across from the Valley Floor is approved for 20 single family homes and a 3-acre affordable housing lot.