Eagle County land deal ‘not a hot topic’
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
EL JEBEL – Pitkin County commissioners quizzed their colleagues in Eagle County on Monday about a separate deal in Eagle County that has been lumped in with a controversial land exchange involving parcels near Carbondale.
Pitkin County is the sole holdout among various governments, environmental organizations and neighborhood groups that have already endorsed the swap of Bureau of Land Management property on the north flank of Mount Sopris for the Sutey Ranch, located north of Carbondale.
In Eagle County, 195 acres that the BLM has identified for disposal would go into private ownership, but with a conservation easement placed on it that would achieve an Eagle County goal – making access to some privately held mining claims difficult. Eagle County commissioners don’t want to see the mining claims developed with homes, as they’re on a visible ridgeline, Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney explained during a joint meeting in El Jebel.
The proposal hasn’t generated any controversy, Eagle County representatives said.
“It’s not a hot topic over there,” Stavney said.
“How does the owner of the mining claims feel about this?” asked Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Kay-Clapper.
“We don’t care,” Stavney replied.
Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon said he favors a conservation easement to protect the land. Otherwise, the BLM could dispose of it, resulting in development the county doesn’t want, he reasoned.
But Pitkin County commissioners pondered how landowner Leslie Wexner and his wife, Abigail, are linked – if they are – to the Eagle County deal, and prodded the Eagle County officials for insight.
“How is Wexner involved in this – how is he directing this piece?” mused Commissioner Jack Hatfield.
“I don’t think there’s a conspiracy on this side,” Stavney said.
The Wexners are driving the proposed deal currently before Pitkin County.
Pitkin County commissioners are weighing what is coming out of private ownership and what is going into private ownership, and looking for a balance between the acreages and land values involved, Clapper said.
“We’re not really seeing any of that,” she said.
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