Big party or corporate event? | AspenTimes.com

Big party or corporate event?

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A highly altered Woody Creek snakes through the property of Floyd Watkins as one of dozens of shuttle trips makes thier way into the "Disney" like landscape for a company's private function Tuesday afternoon. Daniel Bayer photo.

Pitkin County officials are looking into rumors that a Woody Creek resident is holding corporate events at his ranch without obtaining a special events permit.

According to Community Development Deputy Director Lance Clarke, a staff member was sent Tuesday to Floyd Watkins’ Beaver Run Ranch on Woody Creek Road to investigate the allegations. Clarke said last week he received a call from a resident who wondered if what appeared to be a “pretty big event” at the ranch was legal.

“It depends on what kind of event it is,” Clarke said. “If it’s a commercial event, and Mr. Watkins is taking money for it or leasing out his place, then indeed it is a special event that requires a permit. If it’s a private party and he’s just inviting friends over for dinner, it’s not a violation.”

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis received a call from a Lenado resident last week complaining about parked luxury buses and limousines blocking Woody Creek Road. On Wednesday Braudis sent a deputy to the entrance of the ranch, approximately six miles up Woody Creek Road, to clear the cars. Braudis said that, although Watkins was asked to come to the entrance to speak with the deputy about the cars, he refused.

Braudis also said the community’s residents heard that PaineWebber employees were at the ranch for the event. When he questioned Watkins last week about the events, he told Braudis he “was not renting out his land, the events were charitable” and there just happened to be a lot of PaineWebber people in attendance at the last event.

“If the road is blocked, it’s a public safety issue and we’ll address it,” Braudis said. “The community development department deals with the land-use aspects, and they’ve gotten complaints.”

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Clarke said even a charitable event at the ranch would warrant a special events permit, just as Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass obtains a permit each year before throwing a major fund-raiser at his own ranch for the Buddy Program.

He said the department has sent a staff member to the ranch because “it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not someone is actually receiving remuneration for the event.”

“That’s the key – people could have a lot of friends or throw a very big private party, but when it’s something where money is changing hands for use of the property or the event is open to the public, [it must be permitted],” Clarke said. “If this is happening at Floyd Watkins’, they are in violation.”

A woman who answered the phone at Watkins’ residence said the ranch has been rented out “for the last week or so,” and those renters may have put on some parties while they are staying in the main house. The woman did not give her name, but said she is “just visiting” and that Watkins is out of town until Sunday.

Clarke said Watkins can rent out a single-family home to a single family, but if he is renting his property out for corporate retreats or major events, he must obtain a permit.

A phone message to Watkins for comment was not returned.