Droste appeals value of property on Brush Creek | AspenTimes.com
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Droste appeals value of property on Brush Creek

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

A state board is scheduled to take up a dispute over the value of land held by the Droste family in the Brush Creek Valley.

The State Board of Assessment Appeals will convene March 17 in Grand Junction. The Drostes are one of two Pitkin County property owners slated to appeal their property assessments to the board, but the other, Aspen City Council candidate Bert Myrin, said Tuesday he will drop his appeal.

Bruce Droste, a one-quarter owner of land that has been sterilized from development with a conservation easement, filed an appeal with the state to dispute the value assigned to about 465 acres by the county assessor’s office.

The land is protected from development by a conservation easement purchased by the town of Snowmass Village for $7.5 million in 1999. The Drostes still own the land, but its value is reduced with the easement in place.

“That’s the crux of the whole thing – what’s a reasonable value for land that you can’t do anything with,” said Larry Fite, chief appraiser for the county assessor’s office.

The Droste appeal is for the tax year 2001. If the state board adjusts the assessed value of the acreage for 2001, it will be carried forward and apply to 2002 as well, Fite said.

According to Droste’s petition, he believes the actual value of the property is $871,875. The county assigned a value of $1.54 million.

The land in question is separate from the acreage the Drostes are currently fighting to develop.

Myrin said he objected to the assessed value assigned to his West End home for two reasons: the rate at which the assessor concluded it was escalating in value, and the potential impact redevelopment of nearby commercial properties could have on his property.

A part-owner of the Monarch Street house, Myrin said he bought the property in October 1999 for $1.95 million. Last May, he received an assessment notice that put the property’s value at $2.1 million.

“That adds up to about $800 a day, Monday through Friday,” he said, voicing doubt that it is accruing in value at that pace.

Myrin also said he believes the city’s new infill regulations could reduce the value of the property by allowing greater build-out of two adjoining commercial properties – the Clark’s Market complex and the Moss Entertainment building on Mill Street. His house is perched above those buildings, as the land drops dramatically between Monarch and Mill streets where his house is situated.

The infill legislation, however, has yet to be adopted by the City Council, so Myrin said he’ll drop his assessment appeal until next year.

In his assessment appeal, Myrin placed the value of his home at between $1.8 million and $1.95 million for 2002.

In addition to his infill concerns, he noted the property lacks privacy due to the adjoining commercial uses and a trail next to his back yard, and that it has no views of Aspen Mountain, no garage and no master suite, and indicated its historic designation “has an enormous stigma with potential purchasers.”

Property owners receive an assessment notice each May, followed by a period during which they may appeal to the assessor’s office. From there, appeals go to the county’s Board of Equalization, comprised of the county commissioners.

Droste received an adjustment from the Board of Equalization, but not to the extent he has requested, according to Fite.

After the Board of Equalization, appeals go to the State Board of Assessment Appeals.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]


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