Lewis’ bill protects private property
Rep. Kimmi Lewis has long been heralded as a defender of private property rights and the signing of her HB19-1078 into law was in the defense of those rights.
Lewis said multiple landowners, including herself, in southeastern Colorado learned in January of 2015 their property was to be included on the National Registry of Historic Places as a Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) as a study area, without their knowledge or consent. The properties were submitted by Colorado Preservation Inc., and the landowners had about three days to stop the inclusion.
Representatives for the landowners contacted the keeper of the National Registry of Historic Places in Washington, D.C., who assured them the sites could not be included without the knowledge of the landowner, though Lewis said that was the case. Meetings followed during the spring of 2015 though Colorado Preservation Inc., did not attend meetings in Branson or La Junta, following an invitation.
“Ultimately, we sent demand letters from the landowners to Colorado Preservation, Inc., and some to History Colorado, who oversees the whole project,” Lewis said. “Colorado Preservation, Inc., had received a grant to come down here and do a lot of this research on these homesteads down here and they led people to believe they were going to stop the Army from taking their land if they would let them come on their land and take all these photographs and record all these homesteads.”
THE PINK MAP
Despite the objections of landowners, property was included on what Lewis calls the Pink Map, an area south of La Junta to New Mexico, west to Trinidad and east to Kim along Highway 109, basically the same area included in the failed Heritage Area that landowners fought and defeated years earlier.
“I felt like the way to solve some of the problems with them stepping on private property rights is to require a signature,” she said. “It ought to be an honor to have your property, historic building, or home on the National Register of Historic Places, but no group ought to be allowed to put your property on there without your knowledge.”
Lewis’ bill, also sponsored by Senate President Leroy Garcia and Sen. Vicki Marble, focuses on the MPDF submitted first to the Colorado Historic Preservation Review Board and, upon the board’s approval, on to the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The intent of the bill, now law, is to require each landowner’s consent, for all lands included within the area described or included within a MPDF, before a MPDF may be approved by the board.
The House of Representatives passed HB19-1078 on Feb. 22, 2019, introduced in the Senate on Feb. 25, passed the Senate on March 20, and was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on April 12, 2019. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.