Droste ready to subdivide | AspenTimes.com

Droste ready to subdivide

Sarah S. Chung

Charging local officials with refusing to give him a “straight answer” about the value of his property, Peter Droste said Tuesday he is taking his family’s ranch off the negotiating table.

“We’ve been in this process for well over a year and I’m still waiting for a serious offer,” Droste told the The Aspen Times last night.

His family’s 940 acres in the Brush Creek Valley has been the subject of talks involving the town of Snowmass Village, Pitkin County and the county’s Open Space and Trails Board for about a year. Local governments are interested in preserving the land as open space and wildlife habitat. The ranch forms the scenic entrance to Snowmass Village.

“At this point, I can’t get the mayor to answer my phone messages and I can’t get a straight answer from [Bill] Hegberg, so I’ve decided no one’s interested in the property,” Droste said. “This minute, I’m subdividing three lots in the valley to fund the road to the top and I’ll continue to subdivide both the top and valley.”

Under state law, subdividing land into 35-acre homesteads is exempt from any local government approval process, if there are no hazardous conditions on site. The property may still face Pitkin County’s “1041 hazard review,” but Droste is confident that any attempt to hinder the subdivision would be considered a “taking” and a violation of his property rights.

Since discussions began on a possible joint purchase of the ranch for preservation purposes, the value of the land has been in dispute. Snowmass Village, the Open Space Board and the Colorado Division of Wildlife have committed $9 million to acquisition of the land. The parties are also seeking a $3 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.

But, according to Droste, about $30 million would be a fair purchase price because that’s what he can get on the free market.

“I’ve got developers chomping at the bit for lots,” said Droste, who is already advertising lots on the property.

Droste estimates lots on the valley floor would fetch at least $1 million each and lots on the ridge above the valley would sell for $2 to $3 million.

Hegberg, hired by local governments to spearhead negotiations with the Drostes, declined to comment Tuesday.

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