Aspen Chapel’s property puzzle |

Aspen Chapel’s property puzzle

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
AP | The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Pitkin County officials, Aspen Chapel staff and the Meadowood Homeowners Association are trying to use land swaps to sort out the patchwork of confusion surrounding the chapel.

The chapel’s towering steeple has stood sentinel at the city’s entrance for almost 40 years, but a series of verbal agreements and realignments dating back some 25 years were never recorded, Aspen Chapel officials said.

And with the peninsula of land formed by Maroon Creek and Castle Creek roads at the roundabout a puzzle of ownership, all involved went before the Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday to find a consensus.

County open space on the site includes two of the chapel’s three gravel parking areas, and county bike trails crisscross the land.

The county also owns an isolated triangle between the chapel and Meadowood, as well as a portion of the road leading from Castle Creek Road to the subdivision.

Aspen Chapel officials own a short section of the road to Meadowood and long have leased the lower parking lot from the county for $50 per year.

Pitkin County staff presented commissioners a number of possible solutions, including the wholesale transfer of the county land to the Aspen Chapel, with attached agreements for an easement for the road to Meadowood, as well as for county trails and trail parking.

Other possible solutions more closely mirror historic verbal agreements, including a swap of a parking lot for the section of road the chapel owns.

County officials said any additional land granted to the chapel would not increase its eligible floor area.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” said Virginia Newton, chairwoman of the Aspen Chapel administrative board.

Chapel officials plan to rezone the property from private residential to public, creating some latitude to build a small addition of office space and two employee housing units, Newton said, and at the same time will complete a long-range master plan for the property.

The chapel land was originally part of the Paepcke ranch, and when the parcel was subdivided, Meadowood homeowners granted a portion of the land for construction of a church, according to Steve Wickes, head of the homeowners association.

The original Meadowood access road ran down a steep bank from the back of the chapel to Maroon Creek Road, but it proved too dangerous and county officials OK’d a safer access across county property to Castle Creek Road 25 years ago, Wickes said.

While all parties are eager to cooperate, and commissioners supported ratifying the historic land swaps, there was no consensus Tuesday, and the parties will continue working together to find solutions, Wickes said.