‘Droste bill’ dead – for now
Legislation that Pitkin County and other counties around the state claimed would gut local land-use controls effectively died Tuesday in the Colorado Senate.
Sen. Lewis Entz, whose district includes Pitkin County, laid Senate Bill 215 over until Thursday – the day after the current legislative session ends.
“It is, in effect, dead,” said Carolynne White, an attorney for the Colorado Municipal League, which lobbied to defeat the bill along with Colorado Counties Inc.
In laying over the bill, however, Entz predicted a new iteration of the measure would surface during the Legislature’s next session, according to White.
Entz, the bill’s lead sponsor, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Pitkin County helped lead the fight against what was known locally as “the Droste bill.” Championed by landowner Peter Droste, the bill was decried by county commissioners as special-interest legislation, crafted specifically to relieve the Droste family from having to comply with county regulations in the development of their property.
“It’s the most corrupt legislation I’ve ever seen at the state level,” said Commissioner Jack Hatfield. “It’s so property specific, it’s an embarrassment that it ever got as far as it did.”
In fact, the bill appeared headed for passage in the Senate after an 18-16 vote in its favor last week. The vote was split along party lines, with Republicans prevailing.
But, when the legislation apparently fell out of favor with a few Republican senators, Entz did not bring it forward for its third and final reading.
“Three Republicans courageously jumped ship,” said Commissioner Shellie Roy, one of a trio of local elected officials who lobbied against the bill in Denver. White said two senators had changed their minds about the bill.
Among the 63 counties that are members of Colorado Counties Inc., a lobbying organization, many coalesced to fight the legislation according to Roy.
“I have rarely seen the counties work so hard to kill something,” she said.
Had the bill become law, it would have exempted the Droste property and an undetermined number of parcels around the state from county growth control and regulation.
The Drostes own a swath of land outside Snowmass Village, stretching from the Brush Creek Valley to Owl Creek Ranch. In their efforts to develop the property, they have sued Pitkin County several times and lost.
Most recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the county’s ability to regulate development of the Droste property to protect an elk herd’s use of the land.
Local commissioners characterized Senate Bill 215 as an attempt to gain from the Statehouse what was denied by the courts.
“It would have wiped out 30 years of protection of the environment and local control of land-use planning,” said Commissioner Dorothea Farris.
Peter Droste has declined to discuss the legislation with The Aspen Times.
Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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