County halts remodeling on Red Mountain
The highest house on Red Mountain is at the center of a quiet battle between local building officials and the homeowner, over charges that the owner has been doing some illegal remodeling.
A “stop work order” has been placed on a remodeling job that until recently was under way at Peak House, located at 2137 Red Mountain Road. Owner Victor Kozeny has turned part of a garage into a bedroom and a bathroom without the proper permits.
The fight with building and zoning officials, however, is only part of Kozeny’s problem. He also is fighting with some of his neighbors, one of whom called in an anonymous complaint that led to the stop work order.
A couple of neighbors, who asked not to be identified, said Kozeny has been feuding with the Red Mountain Homeowner’s Association about expansion of the luxury home, including an extension of the house’s deck.
One critic said Kozeny actually has built four new bedrooms and four new bathrooms in the house – changes that the owner reportedly has been proudly showing off to his friends.
But the county’s records show only one bedroom and one bathroom as being subject to the stop work order.
And according to Pitkin County zoning enforcement officer Joanna Schaffner, the work may have to be undone, because the house now may have more than its allowable volume of livable square footage.
“It doesn’t appear that it’s anything I can sign off on,” said Schaffner last week. “Pretty much it looks like they’re going to remove the improvements they made.”
Those improvements include the construction of a bedroom and a bathroom in what was originally a garage in the lower part of the home, as well as a staircase to another part of the house, according to Schaffner.
Actually, because the new room does not contain a closet, she said, “I can’t call it a bedroom. They’re calling it a bedroom.”
The homeowner submitted plans in early 1998 to convert part of the garage space into a “new work/storage room,” but never applied for a permit to make any further alterations. The garage, before any alterations were made, was more than 1,000 square feet in size, Schaffner said.
There is no further documentation in the file at the building department, although according to sources in the department, a neighbor of the Peak House called in a complaint earlier this year about the work going on there.
Stephen Kanipe, the head of the city/county building department, went up to the site to see what was going on and later sent Schaffner up for a formal inspection. What they found was a carpeted room with finished carpentry, handwoven fabric on the walls and interior lighting.
“It’s living space,” Kanipe said last month.
Schaffner said the bedroom is considered illegal because, with it in place, the home exceeds the allowable “floor area ratio” (FAR) in its original development permit.
Schaffner said there may be options for the homeowner to pursue that would allow him to keep the bedroom, having to do with the way the FAR is calculated.
The building department is awaiting a response to the stop work order before proceeding any further, but there was no indication of any response as of Jan. 29.
According to documents at the Pitkin County Courthouse, the 15,000-square-foot home is owned by an organization called The Peak House Corp., and was built in 1993 on a lot that is nearly three acres in size.
The mansion made headlines in June 1997 when it sold for $19.7 million.
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