Aspen land swap on the ballot
ASPEN Next month, Aspen residents will get a chance to vote on a proposed land swap at the base of Shadow Mountain.If voters approve the swap, the city would give a roughly 850-square-foot sliver of the city-owned Barbee Open Space to the Little Cloud Subdivision Homeowners Association. In return, the two landowners who currently make up that HOA would give the city approximately 87,120 square feet (roughly 2 acres) of private property.In a memo to the City Council, open space and special projects manager Brian Flynn called the deal “mutually beneficial” to the city and the landowners.Flynn told the council the benefit to the city is that the 2 acres it would receive would secure a permanent easement for a public trail at the base of Shadow Mountain. Currently, the trail that connects the Little Cloud Open Space to other nearby trails runs across the private landowners’ property.If voters approve the swap, the city’s parks and trails department will realign the existing trail to be slightly uphill and farther away from the private development. Once that department determines the best location for the realigned trail, the city and the HOA will determine the exact boundaries of the 2 acres the city would receive.On the homeowners side, Terry Taylor, who owns one of the private lots in the Little Cloud subdivision, needs to extend a wall that offers protection from avalanches and rockfall above his lot. But to be effective, the wall needs to be extended a short distance into the Barbee Open space. The roughly 850 square feet the HOA would receive would stretch like a finger into the open space to accommodate the extension.In his memo, Flynn told the council that “staff believes this will be the only opportunity to secure the trail easement for permanent public benefit.”Once all the lots are developed, there could be up to four different homeowners in the HOA.”The immediate concern is that a new HOA may not be publicly minded and would have the right and perhaps the opportunity to close any trails across their private land,” Flynn wrote.The Little Cloud subdivision is technically part of the county, not the city, and controversy surrounded the county’s development approval process. Public debate focused on the impact of construction and development on the face of Shadow Mountain. But attempts to stop the development or buy the land for city open space failed. Because the proposed land swap involves city open space, it requires approval by Aspen voters, who will get that chance in the May 8 election.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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