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Todd Creek Farms homeowners summoned to defend mineral rights vs. developer claim

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By Christopher Harrop

BRIGHTON — Homeowners in Todd Creek Farms have been summoned to court by the developer in a dispute over who holds the mineral rights to many of the properties.

As part of the growing number of oil and gas operations cropping up in the unincorporated areas on the periphery of Brighton, dozens of homeowners in Todd Creek Farms were approached in recent months by a landman on behalf of Extraction Oil & Gas, LLC, proposing leases on the mineral estate on the Todd Creek Farms lots.

The summons being sent to homeowners is based on a May 29 filing from Todd Creek Farms, LLC, which was the original developer of the properties. Specifically, the filing seeks a judge’s declaration regarding the ownership of mineral rights of multiple lots on the development.

Todd Creek Farms claims that, of the 51 property owners named in one suit targeting Filing No. 2 of the subdivision:

• Twenty-eight of the homeowners acquired their lots prior to April 21, 1998, when the company claims to have acquired mineral rights.

• Eighteen of the homeowners acquired the title to their lots between April 21 and Aug. 14, 1998, during which time the transformer of the mineral rights to Todd Creek Farms had yet to be recorded by Adams County.

• Five homeowners who acquired their titles after Aug. 14, 1998, at which point Todd Creek Farms claims that the mineral rights were reserved to the company as part of the Riverdale Farms land deal in March 1996. 

One of those lots currently caught in the title debate is the home of Tom and Joey LaRose, who are among the 18 homeowners in Todd Creek who acquired their title in the time between Todd Creek Farm’s acquisition of mineral rights and the recording of it by Adams County.

The LaRoses had been contacted by landman Clint Blum of Mid-Continent Energy in Littleton with a lease proposal earlier this year and signed on for a lease of the mineral rights for their property on Boston Street after Extraction Oil & Gas, LLC, issued an opinion from their title attorney in April confirming their ownership of the mineral rights on their Todd Creek lot.

Less than two months later, they were getting court summons delivered to their home, questioning their ownership of the mineral rights, as well as offers from Extraction to set them up with an attorney.

Ultimately, the LaRoses and other homeowners opted to seek outside representation that proved to be too costly for many of the residents, many of whom only stood to make a fraction from their lease compared to the cost of the lawyer.

Blum declined to comment on the litigation. According to correspondence sent to Todd Creek Farms homeowners, Denver-based attorney Gretchen VanderWerf has been retained on behalf of the homeowners in handling the rights case in Adams County court.

Prior to Todd Creek Farms, LLC, filing their complaint for declaratory relief, Blum had sent letters to homeowners stating that Extraction Oil & Gas, LLC’s title attorney had researched the titles of the properties in the area and confirmed ownership of their respective mineral estates. That information, along with the claims made by the developer, will be evaluated by a judge to determine who ultimately holds the rights to whatever mineral wealth lies beneath Todd Creek Farms.