CDOT: Golf club can share road
The state’s regional transportation engineer confirms that the alternative access proposed by the Maroon Creek Club for affordable housing at Burlingame Ranch clashes with a basic agency tenet.
“One of our fundamental policies is that no new access should be provided when there is an entirely adequate one already in place,” said Ralph Trapani, Colorado Department of Transportation’s Highway 82 project manager.
At issue is the potential joint use between the Maroon Creek Club and the proposed Burlingame affordable housing projects of three existing roads that serve the club.
Protesting that traffic generated from the projects would “interfere” with “reasonable use of the easements and rights of way it expressly reserved,” the Maroon Creek Club recently sued the city and the Music Associates of Aspen.
Within the lawsuit, the club proposes reopening Old Stage Road to provide access from the Burlingame property to Highway 82 in a manner more acceptable to the club in terms of traffic impacts. This alternative would be “mutually beneficial to the city, MAA, the club and the community as a whole,” said club attorney David Lenyo.
The city and MAA are planning a seasonal-housing project at the city-owned Burlingame Ranch. A separate housing development elsewhere on the property is also in the planning phase. The ranch is located between the Maroon Creek Club and the Aspen Airport Business Center.
Any decision to reauthorize the use of Old Stage Road to serve the housing projects is beyond the jurisdiction of the city and the MAA. Only CDOT can approve the opening, or reopening, of the public road, which was closed upon construction of New Stage Road. But the state is not anxious to create another intersection with Highway 82.
“Limiting access is a very critical element to the Highway 82 project. Aside from not allowing new accesses, we’ve been consolidating existing roads because the more accesses, the more side friction, and the more opportunity for accidents,” Trapani said. “CDOT’s very supportive of affordable housing and in terms of transit and Highway 82, what’s in place is a pretty good solution.”
For some two months, the club, city, MAA, and CDOT had been discussing the possibility of alternatives to sharing New Stage Road, which is currently the only access to the Burlingame property.
According to Lenyo, the club only sued when representatives of the city and the MAA quit those talks. Jim Curtis, project director for the 104-unit, seasonal Burlingame project, said talks about alternative access broke down when it became clear CDOT wasn’t interested.
All the roads named in the lawsuit (New Stage and North and South Underpass) are public roads, but easement rights were reserved by the club at the time of their dedication to the city.
More relevant, according to the city attorney, than an examination of those easement rights is an older agreement between the one of the owners of the Maroon Creek Club and the former owner of Burlingame Ranch.
“The city owns [New Stage Road] but it was always clear that the club retained encroachment rights. In my opinion, it’s the Paepcke agreement that supersedes any ownership dispute,” said City Attorney John Worcester.
In 1993, an executor of the Paepcke family trust and James Pearce, an owner of the Maroon Creek Club, signed an agreement which basically ensured that any owner of Burlingame Ranch would retain historical access from the property.
Interpretation of that document that is now the real battle.
The city and MAA are relying on a provision in the agreement that preserves access for any future development on the property. Affordable housing is mentioned specifically.
The club is counting on a limitation within the document that reads: “aspects of development … that do not have a direct impact on the Project or its facilities.”
Neither of the two Burlingame affordable housing projects have received formal approvals. (The larger, 225-unit Burlingame project has yet to reach the development application stage.
Curtis has said he believes the club is suing developers of the seasonal project in hopes of stopping or slowing down the larger Burlingame proposal.
But there is also speculation that a pending change in ownership and a possible desire to sweeten negotiations are at the root of the lawsuit.
Both Worcester and Lenyo agree that different owners would not affect the outcome of the case one way or another. But a deputy city clerk confirmed that an application for a new liquor license for the club was picked up about two weeks ago, but has not been submitted.
In keeping with state law, whenever there is a change in lease or ownership, a facility must apply for a new liquor license within 30 days after a deed or agreement is signed.
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