Home can be replaced, county says
September 10, 2008
ASPEN ” Neal and Amy Beidleman can continue building their house in Aspen’s Ardmore neighborhood, thanks to the Pitkin County commissioners.
And it could turn out that others in the neighborhood will benefit from the Beidlemans’ case, although at least two of the neighbors were not happy with the decision to allow construction to continue, or with the way they were characterized by the Beidlemans’ lawyer in discussions on the matter.
“I’m a little bit shocked,” said neighbor Rosemary Bilchak, after hearing attorney Jody Edwards tell the commissioners he felt Bilchak and her husband, Gordon MacAlpine, who live next door to the Beidlemans, were being “quite a bit more vindictive than anything” in opposing the Beidlemans’ plans.
The commissioners ruled in a work session Tuesday that the Beidlemans obeyed all relevant land-use codes and regulations in obtaining a permit to demolish and replace their house at 120 Ardmore Drive, which they bought in 1996 from Greg Blaze for $695,000, according to county records.
Commissioners conceded that Blaze appeared to have committed illegal acts over the 23 years or more that he owned the property, including unpermitted construction activities that left the house nearly 1,000 square feet bigger than allowed under existing zoning.
The house was built before the county’s land-use codes included restrictions on square footage in the Ardmore neighborhood, and it was expanded without the necessary building permits in the mid-1980s, according to testimony at the work session.
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Bilchak and MacAlpine were asking the county to rescind the Beidlemans’ building permit, force the Beidlemans to redesign the house according to current zoning restrictions on size, and order the removal of two allegedly illegal garages on land the Beidlemans bought from Blaze that originally was meant to be open space.
But past misdeeds by Blaze were not the Beidlemans’ fault, the commissioners concluded.
“I feel we really can’t unwind that clock,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards, in reference to Blaze’s apparently illegal building activities.
“We need to go forward,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley, who lived in the Ardmore neighborhood for about two decades and said he knew of Blaze and the property in question.
The commissioners seemed to agree with planning consultant Glenn Horn, who characterized the Beidlemans as “local people just trying to improve their house and raise a family here,” as opposed to wealthy speculators or second-home owners.
Horn and Edwards both told the commissioners the Beidlemans had taken out what Edwards called “a seven-figure construction loan that is collecting interest every day.” They also said that the Beidlemans, having obtained a building permit in early June, already had torn down the old house and were three-quarters done with the new one.
County staff members noted that Bilchak and MacAlpine had failed to file a formal appeal to the issuance of the building permit within the required time, 15 working days, a fact that Edwards maintained invalidated any hearing of the matter before the county.
“Where does this all end?” demanded Bilchak after the discussion, referring to Blaze’s alleged misdeeds and what she saw as the commissioners validating illegal acts by allowing the Beidlemans to rebuild a house that does not conform to regulations.
At least three of the commissioners agreed to talk with neighborhood representatives about revising the county’s “floor-area ratio” regulations governing building sizes in the Ardmore district, with an eye toward easing the restrictions and allowing homeowners greater square footage for expansion and reconstruction projects.