Aspen doctor fights eviction
ASPEN A doctor has filed court papers claiming that the housing authority’s bid to kick her out of her Ritz-Carlton Club affordable housing unit is an “invalid attempt to enact rent control.”Dr. Amanda Tucker, whom the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority sued in March 2006, continues to live in the deed-restrict townhouse at Aspen Highlands Village, after buying it for $179,000 at a foreclosure auction in 2005.The housing authority claims that Tucker, an anesthesiologist, did not complete an application in order for her to qualify for ownership of the Category 3 housing unit, which puts a $91,000 cap on yearly earnings for owners with two dependents. Additionally, their net assets cannot exceed $150,000. Tucker is a mother of two. At the time Tucker bought the Ritz-Carlton unit, she owned seven pieces of real estate in Hawaii, according to public records.The lawsuit asks a judge to order her to put her unit up for sale, but the case has moved at a seemingly sluggish pace ever since it was filed in Pitkin County District Court. Tucker recently filed her formal answer to the lawsuit, after 9th Judicial District Court Judge Daniel B. Petre denied her motion to dismiss, which Aspen lawyer John Case filed.Case, on behalf of Tucker, claimed that the buyer-qualification requirements and the sale/resale provisions established by the housing authority constitute rent control. Case cited a landmark ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court in what’s known simply as the “Telluride case,” claiming that the high court’s decision rendered the housing authority’s requirements to purchase a unit as a direct and indirect form of rent control.The Telluride ruling in 2000 went in favor of a developer and against the town of Telluride. The high court ruled that the local governments cannot set rents in privately owned projects.Petre, however, disagreed, ruling that “many of the provisions in the agreement are not classic rent control provisions. Rather, they have to do with determining ‘qualified buyers’ and maximum sale/resale prices for the units. They deal with sale, not rental, of the units. These provisions are ordinary deed restrictions and can be upheld while eliminating any rent control provisions that may be invalid as a result of Telluride.”Despite the judge’s denial of the motion to dismiss, Tucker’s answer still asserts that the housing authority’s deed restriction on the unit “is unenforceable as an invalid attempt to enact rent control.”Tucker admits in the her formal reply that she did not submit a completed application packet but claims that there was no deadline for her to do so. Attorney Tom Smith, who is representing the housing authority in the dispute, said Friday, “We’re hoping that we can bring this matter to a resolution soon.”Rick Carroll can be reached email@example.com.
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