Emma riverside project dismantled | AspenTimes.com

Emma riverside project dismantled

An elaborate assortment of illegally built decks, gazebos and stairways along the Roaring Fork River near Emma has been partially dismantled to settle a long-running dispute.

The owner of the River Run Ranch, Elizabeth Shapkin, removed several wooden improvements from the steep river bank to comply with an order from Pitkin County. She has also agreed to revegetate areas where the wood features were removed, according to county planner Ezra Louthis.

He said that Shapkin has been extremely cooperative after inheriting the problem. The network of wooden improvements was built by a man who apparently had an option to buy the property. Martin Hageland intended to add the special features to the property then sell it, according to Eagle County officials.

Hageland was issued stop work orders, also known as red tags, by officials from both Pitkin and Eagle counties in October 2000. River Run Ranch straddles the county line.

Hageland was cited by both counties for performing the work without a permit. Pitkin County officials said the work violated restrictions on development of slopes greater than 30 percent as well as riverbank setback regulations.

The gazebos and stairways were clearly visible from Two Rivers Road, old Highway 82, particularly when the leaves fell.

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Several complaints were erroneously filed with the town of Basalt, which had no jurisdiction in the case. Neighbors complained the development infringed upon the natural environment at a stretch of river that is relatively untouched.

Hageland was preparing plans to submit to the counties and negotiating an end to the the dispute when he committed suicide. Shapkin was unaware that Hageland’s development had been an issue with the counties. She resumed negotiations with county officials and agreed to remove some of the features.

“We had them remove most of what was down there,” said Louthis. That included some of the decks, gazebos, walkways and wooden decorative touches. A waterfall that cascades down the slope was allowed to stay because removing it would leave the slope susceptible to erosion, Louthis said. Other features on the Eagle County side of the property were allowed to stay.

Negotiations are ongoing between Shapkin and Pitkin County over features that were constructed in the front of the house without permits.

[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com]