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Plan to remove Colorado Springs homeless camp called off due to private property questions

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EL PASO COUNTY -

A scheduled homeless camp removal on the property owned by Rocky Top Resources has been canceled. Notices to vacate were put up on Wednesday telling campers they had to be gone by Friday. Then there was realization this situation is different than previous trespassing enforcement on public right of ways. "A landlord tenant relationship had been established. Those folks camping had standing to be there and the only way for those people to be removed was for Rocky Top to evict them, El Paso County Sheriff’s Lieutenant, Bill Huffor. It came to him that this situation was different than others. He went to his commanders and county attorneys. “Told we were right on the money,” said Huffor.

The property at the south end of Colorado Springs is outside the fence where the Rocky Top Recycling business operates. The owner has been allowing the camping, but recently changed his mind. "Just because he rescinds permission does not change the fact he gave them permission and created a landlord tenant issue," said Sheriff Bill Elder. The county attorney says if you allow someone to stay, even campers, it is not trespassing and the property owner has to evict.

Sheriff’s deputies who have patrolled the homeless camp say there are more than 100 people staying there. The property owner can ask them to leave. He they refuse to go he has to file for eviction through the courts. There is a cost and the process can take months.

"I now this community has a huge heart," said Sheriff Elder. He says this situation is also a caution for others. Helping others is good, but when it comes to property be wise. "When it gets out of hand it's going to be up to you to solve the problem. You can't just decide I've had enough I'm going to call the police.”

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