Entz, Rippy must represent all, not just Droste | AspenTimes.com

Entz, Rippy must represent all, not just Droste

Aspen Times writer

What business does state government have in local, residential development decisions?

None, you would think.

But that’s not the answer that comes to mind after looking at Senate Bill 215.

The state Legislature will soon vote on whether to pass a law that appears to be designed to help one frustrated landowner get around the rules and regulations by which everyone else lives.

State Sen. Lewis Entz, R-Hooper, and state Rep. Gregg Rippy, R-Glenwood Springs, both of whom represent Pitkin County, are co-sponsoring a law that overrides the concept of local control and has the potential to undo 30 years of land-use planning in many areas around the state.

And they are doing it to help just one family, the Drostes, who own a little more than 900 acres along and above Brush Creek.

The short version of the history behind this law dates back to the 1990s, when local leaders made it a priority to preserve as much of the Droste land possible. Peter Droste and his family have sold conservation easements that cover some 600 acres for about $8 million.

The Drostes have submitted development plans for the remaining acreage in recent years to build homes on the unencumbered property in the hills. The proposals have been denied by the county because the development would compromise winter elk habitat, jeopardizing the viability of the Burnt Mountain elk herd. County officials say they have offered to work with the Drostes to develop between nine and 11 homes clustered to minimize their effect on the herd’s movements.

The Drostes have filed a number of lawsuits in recent years and have come out on the losing end. Most recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals concluded last August that the county has authority to regulate development on the Droste property based on a 1974 law known as the Land Use Control Enabling Act.

The Entz/Rippy legislation would exempt the Droste property from the court’s ruling and the 1974 law. It would roll time back 30 years and strip away every zoning change made since 1974, regardless of changing circumstances. Essentially local governments, like Pitkin County, that began regulating development before 1974 would be forced to live with the zoning enacted in the 1960s and early 1970s. And the Drostes, who have at times proposed building approximately two dozen homes on their property, would be able to do whatever they pleased.

How the Entz/Rippy legislation will affect other properties around the state remains to be seen, but the fact that a growing number of county governments have expressed opposition leads one to believe the effects will be profound.

Our “representatives” appear to have drafted a law that addresses the grievances of one family who has already made millions off their land and stands, even with the less intense development suggested by county negotiators, to make millions more.

Lewis Entz and Gregg Rippy should be looking out for the interests of all the people in their district and the well-being of the state, rather than pandering to the desires of one wealthy constituent.

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