County, Snowmass discuss future of Droste property
Officials from the town of Snowmass Village and Pitkin County met yesterday afternoon to reaffirm their commitment to preserve the Brush Creek Valley and curb one local resident’s efforts to develop property in the area.
But a Snowmass councilman warned that the town is not obligated to consult the county in their decision-making process, an announcement that foreshadowed possible conflict between the two governments.
The meeting between Pitkin County commissioners and Snowmass Town Council members addressed the development efforts of Peter Droste. Droste is a Pitkin County resident who has unsuccessfully sued the county repeatedly in an attempt to develop his land above Brush Creek. The land has been deemed a winter elk range and is protected under county code and state law.
Currently, the Colorado Legislature is considering State Bill 215, which would limit the county’s ability to prohibit Droste’s development. The fate of the bill should be known today.
If the bill fails, Droste may seek annexation into the town of Snowmass Village, which could potentially offer looser building restrictions. Snowmass officials reassured the county that they would not offer Droste such a loophole.
“We want to do everything we can to protect wildlife [in the area] and minimize the impact of development,” Snowmass Mayor T. Michael Manchester told the county commissioners. “We want to make sure that we don’t get into a bidding situation where [Droste] plays one side against the other.”
Manchester also pointed out that Droste’s property could not be annexed at present because it does not touch Snowmass Village’s boundaries. For Droste to be annexed, the town would first have to annex the adjoining 7-Star property, a move which is potentially years away.
Pitkin County commissioners were under the impression that a 1995 intergovernmental agreement required Snowmass officials to consult the county if it planned to annex Droste’s property.
But Councilman Doug Mercatoris warned that the agreement referred to a separate Droste holding and therefore annexation wouldn’t require county approval.
“I’m just telling you what I’ve been told,” Mercatoris said.
The announcement came as a surprise to commissioners, who said the county attorney would investigate Mercatoris’ claim.
“No more liberal building requirements than the county, that’s our commitment,” Mercatoris added.
Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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