For over 22 years Mr. Johnson maintained a BV Distinguished® attorney peer rating from Martindale Hubbell, “an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.” In order to obtain his BV rating, Mr. Johnson was first found to have “Very High General Ethical Standards”.
Stephen B. Johnson Law Firm, P.C. focuses its general civil practice on:
Our work often includes sophisticated buy-sell transactions, leasing, financing, landlord-tenant disputes, boundary and access issues, and common interest community matters. We routinely perform contract drafting and due diligence in leasing up or purchasing commercial space, residential and ranch properties.
In 2014 we assisted a buyer in due diligence and closing on a hotel property in Steamboat Springs. Several condominium developments in the Telluride area were formed with our assistance. We advise several owners’ associations on compliance with the Colorado Common Interest Community Act (CCIOA) and Non-Profit Corporation Act matters. We have advised numerous clients on real estate transfer tax exemptions and access and utility easement matters. Seller-financing and loan agreements present challenges that we frequently help our clients with. One client whose access easement was threatened by subdivision plat proposal was pleased when we convinced a municipality not to approve it; the case was later resolved during quiet title litigation. Recently we settled a quiet title action in which we restored historical driveway access to a down-valley residence that a neighbor had suddenly blocked off. We have advised clients on foreclosure matters, and have recently obtained several property tax reclassifications and abatements.
This area of law includes zoning, subdivision, development entitlements and governmental matters. National Historic District status and floodplain issues in the Town of Telluride present unique issues for home and business buyers that we are well-versed in.
We occasionally appear before municipal and county boards and commissions to advocate both for and against specific land development proposals. We have the experience to both bring and defend procedural and substantive challenges to government land use decisions. Recently we finished a two-year battle before the Telluride Historic and Architectural Review Commission (HARC) involving a highly-rated historic structure that was amended to the satisfaction of several neighbors that we represented. We also helped two groups of landowners financially participate in and get authorizations for alley and drainage improvements, and a common driveway and trash enclosure.
Our water law practice includes water rights adjudication, plans of augmentation, and changes of water rights, water right transfers, abandonment tabulations, and well permit matters. Due to the prior appropriation system, property owners and buyers in Colorado face a myriad of challenges in acquiring, using, and changing water rights.
Our work has included annexing property into a water conservancy district, and federal authorizations to maintain headgates on public lands. We have filed and prosecuted water right applications for storage rights, direct flow diversions, changes, as well as statements of opposition, in Water Courts in three different western slope water divisions. We have experience in defending a ditch company from trespass to its ditches, and have worked on ditch company formation. Recently we settled a water right change case after forcing a new landowner to respect a 70 year-old one page ditch agreement. We are working on hydro-electric water right that although it is non-consumptive, may impact in-stream rights controlled by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Mr. Johnson is one of just a few real estate lawyers in the Telluride Region who also practices water law and public lands law.
Building on his Mesa County and Town of Telluride Attorney experience, Steve Johnson has continued to represent local governments, including the Town of Ophir, Town of Sawpit, Norwood Water Commission, and San Miguel County Library District #1.
Issues have ranged from elections, home-rule charter amendments, Land Use Code revisions and extensions, property exchanges and acquisitions, infrastructure development, loans and grants, annexations, water enterprise funds, waterline easements, tap allocation disputes, zoning and subdivision development approvals for the Wilkinson Public Library, development proposals in geohazard areas, etc. Our firm provided grant and loan application assistance and legal opinions for several entities that yielded over $790,000.00 from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and Drinking Water Revolving Funds, mostly non-repayable. Current projects include establishment of municipal broadband services and facilities, a residential annexation, and completing property tax and loan elections.
This practice area includes addressing mineral development impacts, reclamation and pollution discharge regulation, federal and state permits, and federal environmental law compliance. Due to the wealth of public lands in southwest Colorado, numerous properties are affected by some aspect of public land and federal environmental law, primarily the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
We have helped clients to: obtain environmental assessments of mining-impacted property, complete mineral reclamation requirements and recover bonds, terminate discharge (pollution) permits, evaluate land exchange feasibility, defeat an asphalt batch plant proposal, oppose federal mineral (oil and gas) leases and defensively acquire leases, and appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals. We have obtained Special Use Permits for access to inholdings across both Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands (including one involving an Environmental Impact Statement). We recently successfully appealed a Travel Management Plan on Forest Service land, to the benefit of a resort client and ‘quiet-users’ in the region. The agency then decided to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement as we requested. Our participation continues on remand, with improved ‘proposed actions’ now on the table.
Our business formation and maintenance activities include selection of entity, drafting organizational documents for C corporations and limited liability companies, shareholder and membership interest transfers, mergers, and choice of insurance. We have represented buyers and sellers of on-going businesses using asset transfers and entity interest transfers, from hardware stores to window-washing companies.
We have successfully handled several premises liability and personal injury claims against businesses in coordination with insurance defense counsel. We succeeded in having a receiver appointed in a business dispute that later ended in a workout. Recently we established an LLC in one day, enabling a client to meet a firm closing deadline on a jet timeshare purchase. We have assisted several clients on liquor license matters. Years ago we represented the employees of a helicopter-ski service when the business changed hands. While we normally do not practice in family law, Mr. Johnson recently served as co-counsel in a dissolution case involving valuation of real property leases and water rights. His position contending net decrease in valuations from date of marriage was completely agreed to by the presiding judge.
We have counseled both builders and property owners involved with public and private construction projects. Relying on our experience with the Colorado Construction Defect Reform Act (CDARA), we advise clients how to avoid and resolve construction contract disputes.
In Colorado, the ’economic loss rule’ means careful contractual allocation of risk is key to protecting remedies. Our work has enabled out-of-state builders to recover a substantial mechanic’s lien on a large Town of Mountain Village project. We have assisted local builders in collection actions and defense of breach of warranty and breach of contract claims. Mr. Johnson has presented on CDARA issues to the San Miguel County Inns of Court. A local road and excavation company hired by a client called Mr. Johnson’s Consensus-based contract one of the most ‘user-friendly’ contracts they have encountered.
Representative clients include:
Steve quickly and successfully guided me through a water court proceeding for a pond storage right decree involving a well, augmentation plan, and storage capacity lease to protect in-stream flows. Well done!
Steve has for years represented us on a variety of ranch property matters, from access easements, water right applications, spring development construction, property taxes, to conservation easement work. I have found Steve to be knowledgeable and very effective.
Jim Held - The Point Ranch Trust
Steve Johnson has been our legal counsel in Colorado for over 15 years. With his help, we have grown from a small, single location ski shop to a multi-store sporting goods and guiding operations and are the business leaders in our region.
Bob Gleason - The Boot Doctors
... an amazing legal scholar and attorney at law, business person and father. Steve possesses an admirable work ethic, paired with integrity, honesty and tenacity. He has my highest recommendation and respect.
Ray Farnsworth - The Inn Business, Inc.
Very knowledgeable and highly effective. We have retained Steve for numerous legal services involving construction, land development, and historical structure regulation, and will continue to do so.
Don Montgomery - Boulder Village, Inc.
I’ve worked on numerous real estate transactions with Steve. Condominiums, buyer due diligence, environmental assessment, seller-financing and mineral rights evaluation. All of the sales contracts that Steve has been involved in have successfully closed.
Jim Jennings - Nevasca Realty