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Land Grab

by Carol Stevens

GARDNER- There’s trouble brewin’ in them thar hills.  The Hatfields and McCoys have never argued over property like this before.   Gardner resident, Gary Lensky, is claiming properties.  The trouble is, the claims have been on properties owned by others.  Properties in question also involve County Road 632.2.

    Lensky moved to Huerfano County, from Westcliffe.  He originally purchased a one-half acre parcel with a house.  Since then, he has been “staking claims” around the area of his property.  Gardner residents Carol McDonald, Chuck Choin, Manuel Archuleta, William Trujillo, Evelyn Bailey, Randy Dressler, Randy Vialpando and Duane Ford, are directly affected. 

    Lensky hired Wachob and Wachob, from Colorado City, to perform surveyance.  According to affected residents,  their original survey stakes were removed and new ones put in, but in different locations.  The company did not have permission from the resident property owners to enter and survey.  Chuck Choin said that after Wachob surveyed his property,  the property line now goes straight through the middle of his house.  Also, Choin parks his vehicle on the county road.  Lensky has sent rent bills to him for parking on the county road since 2005.  To date, the back rent has accumulated to $9,720, which Choin refuses to pay.  Choin has been to court three times with no decision yet for bills received from Lensky for back rent.

    On Carol McDonalds’ property, Lensky has placed a large yellow “no trespass posted” hand-painted sign, and has commenced to “stock pile” junk and used paint cans.  He also tore down part of her fence to start a new one, for his “issuance”.

    William Trujillo, who owns the Four Seasons, has a legal description of his property dating back to 1870.  After the new surveillance, his property has been cut in half, straight down the middle.

    Duane Ford spoke of the fence posts placed on his property, by Lensky, within inches of his front door.  Ford stated he has a hard time getting in and out of his own house.

    Commissioner Cain stated that, according to Lensky, the rock wall on the one side of the Gardner Community Center is on Lensky’s property.  Lensky has complained to the county about the wall.  A few of the residents stated they’ve removed fences, posts and bracing from their property, only to find it back in place at a later date.

    These Gardner residents recently put together a petition and called a community meeting with Sheriff Bruce Newman and County Commissioner Roger Cain.  They hoped  to get legal recommendations on how to handle Lensky.  Sheriff Newman said, “The Sheriff Department’s hands are tied.  We have no legal right.” Newman recommended the residents involved retain an attorney and get a legal injunction through a judge.  Once the injunction is in place, if Lensky continues placing fences on other people’s property, then the Sheriff’s Department can step in and serve the necessary papers. Sheriff Newman reassured the residents that they have a strong case.

    According to Gary Lensky, the residents in question, with one possible exception, have no legal right to the properties he has claimed.   Apparently he did extensive research, located a deed lost since 1928, and filed a quiet title claim.  He states that on October 29, 2002, a judge in District Court declared it was “forever decided” that he was the legal owner of said property and granted him a quiet title decree.  The original title decree reception number was 356122; it was refiled because of a clerical error as 378723.  Lensky claims that “he has been unnaturally kept from his rights for six years” and harassed by local residents.   He called the recent community meeting mobocracy.

This is part one of a series.

Bertha Trujillo

  Bertha Trujillo, 97, from Gardner, Colo., entered her eternal home on Feb. 12, 2024. She was born in Gardner, Colo., on Sept. 30, 1926,

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