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Evergreen Highlands Assoc. v. West

73 P.3d 1 (2003)

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Evergreen Highlands Assoc. v. West

Colorado Supreme Court

73 P.3d 1 (2003)

Facts

Evergreen Highlands Association (Evergreen) (defendant) is a homeowners’ association in the Evergreen Highlands Subdivision. There are 63 lots and a park in the subdivision. The park, owned by Evergreen, contained hiking and equestrian trails, a barn and stables, ball field, a fishing pond, and tennis courts. There were protective covenants concerning the park, but Evergreen’s members were not required to pay fees or dues to Evergreen. The covenant contained a modification clause that allowed it to be waived, changed, or modified if approved by owners of 75% of the lots. In 1995, the covenant was properly amended to require all lot owners to be members of and to pay annual dues of $50 to Evergreen and to permit Evergreen to place liens on those properties whose owners failed to pay the dues. West (plaintiff), who had purchase his lot prior to the amendment, did not approve the amendment and refused to pay dues. Evergreen threatened to record a lien on West’s property, which prompted West to file suit challenging the validity of the amendment. The district court upheld the amendment but the court of appeals reversed, holding that the terms “change or modify” did not allow for the addition of an entirely new covenant because of the principle that any ambiguities in covenant language should be resolved in favor of free and unrestricted use of property. Evergreen appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rice, J.)

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