Aspen OKs settlement of Maroon Creek suits |

Aspen OKs settlement of Maroon Creek suits

Janet Urquhart

Who pays for a new intersection to serve Aspen’s affordable housing at Burlingame Ranch depends upon whether the proposed Burlingame Village is ever approved.

According to a lawsuit settlement approved Monday by the Aspen City Council, the Maroon Creek Club will reimburse the city for the cost of constructing the intersection, but the city will repay the private golf club if and when Burlingame Village is approved for development.

The settlement agreement, approved by the council after it met behind closed doors Monday night, has also been endorsed by the Maroon Creek Club owners, according to City Attorney John Worcester.

“The club has agreed to it. There are still some minor details to finish up with CDOT, but it’s there,” he said.

The settlement will resolve the Maroon Creek Club’s fight with the city over a neighboring affordable housing project and use of a road through the club grounds to reach the housing.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has agreed to the reopening of the Old Stage Road intersection with Highway 82 to serve housing projects on the city’s Burlingame Ranch property west of town. The city has already arranged a change order with the contractor working on the widening of Highway 82 in the vicinity to build a new signalized intersection, according to Worcester.

The club will reimburse the city up to $1 million for the work, which is expected to cost roughly $600,000, Worcester said.

“The solution, ultimately, is cheaper than we thought going into this thing,” he said.

The reopened intersection will serve the existing seasonal housing, built next door to the Maroon Creek Club on the Burlingame land, as well as the 225-unit Burlingame Village that the city envisions elsewhere at Burlingame.

New Stage Road, which currently provides access to the golf club and its residential development, as well as Burlingame, will serve only the club and three private parcels now served by New Stage Road, according to the settlement.

Once the new intersection is completed and Old Stage Road is reopened, the city will close off New Stage Road to all traffic from the Burlingame seasonal housing and the as-yet-unbuilt Burlingame Village, as well as to the proposed free-market homes on the adjacent Zoline family ranch, according to the agreement.

The settlement does, however, leave the door open to use of New Stage Road for the luxury homes on the Zoline land if that access is approved as part of the city approval of the homes.

In another provision of the deal, the city does not have to build the golf-cart overpass at the New Stage Road intersection that was to be built when Burlingame Village is developed. Funds for that anticipated $1 million expenditure will instead be allocated to reimburse the Maroon Creek Club for the new intersection if Burlingame Village goes forward, Worcester said.

“If Burlingame is not built, the entire cost of that intersection falls on the Maroon Creek Club,” he said.

As part of the deal, the Maroon Creek Club agrees not to fight the development of Burlingame Village.

The agreement also calls for CDOT to pay $476,000 to the city and the club for land it is condemning for its Highway 82 project. The city has leased use of the property to the club for its golf course. The city will put its portion of the proceeds toward the costs of designing and building the new intersection, according to the deal.

The complex agreement will settle a pair of lawsuits filed by the Maroon Creek Club against the city in April 1999. One suit claimed the city was “arbitrary and capricious” in its approval process for the seasonal housing, designated for music students in the summer and local workers in the winter. The other suit argued the club and its members should not be subject to the traffic generated by residents of the new housing, which was built by the city in partnership with the Music Associates of Aspen.

The first suit was dismissed, but the club appealed that decision.

The city countersued the club over the second suit, accusing the club’s management of filing a “frivolous” lawsuit over use of New Stage Road. According to the city’s suit, owners of the club in 1993 agreed not to protest any land-use applications that might involve use of New Stage Road to access Highway 82, including employee housing.

Before it was abandoned, Old Stage Road once intersected with the highway between the seasonal housing and the Maroon Creek Club’s affordable housing project. The creation of New Stage Road was one of the conditions of the Maroon Creek Club’s approval and resulted in the closure of Old Stage Road.

When Old Stage Road is reopened, the road will be realigned to intersect with the highway in a true “T” intersection rather than the sharply angled intersection that formerly existed, Worcester said. Old Stage Road is located downvalley from the New Stage Road intersection.

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