Firm to face daily fines for not fixing Pete Luhn’s sewage woes | AspenTimes.com
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Firm to face daily fines for not fixing Pete Luhn’s sewage woes

Naomi Havlen

The Pitkin County commissioners ruled on Wednesday that a company must pay a fine for not fixing a sewage problem in a cabin it owns.Acting as the county board of health, commissioners decided that Black Diamond Holding will have to pay $50 a day for each day it does not solve a sewage disposal problem on the east Aspen property where the company would like to place high-end, single-family homes.The firm’s attorney, Gregory Gordon, argued that the company could not fix the plumbing in the historic cabin because the cabin’s tenant, longtime resident Pete Luhn, refuses to leave the premises.Luhn claims that when he sold the property to Black Diamond in March 2002 for $2.5 million, the company agreed to let him live in one of the cabins there for the rest of his life. Now the company wants him to move to another cabin because his current residence doesn’t meet the county’s sanitation standards.The company filed eviction papers in Pitkin County Court in July to try and get Luhn off the property. Luhn and his attorney, John Case, have said the company reneged on the agreement because Luhn has cancer and thought he would die soon. Currently, the case is scheduled to go to Pitkin County District Court on Sept. 17.According to Wednesday’s memo to commissioners from Carla Block of the county environmental health department, the office has been working with Black Diamond Holdings since February 2003 to bring the sewage disposal facilities on the parcel into compliance. A cesspool served the historic cabin on the property, and cesspools are prohibited in Colorado, the memo says.While the cesspool was eventually abandoned, Block said a new plumbing system and sewage disposal method was never installed in the cabin, even though it continues to be occupied. The health department on July 28 issued an order blocking the use of the cabin.Gordon told commissioners that because the company has not been able to get Luhn to vacate the cabin, it cannot comply with the order to improve the unit’s plumbing system. He said the company would not be able to resolve the case until the court decides about the eviction notice on Sept. 17.Commissioners, however, said the company did not do enough to fix the plumbing while Luhn still occupies the cabin.”You’re saying you were unable to comply because someone won’t vacate the premises, but there’s no evidence that you ever tried to make repairs,” said Commissioner Mick Ireland. “Black Diamond had ample opportunity to remedy the situation in several ways, and they didn’t.”Commissioner Jack Hatfield called the incident a clear case of noncompliance. As a result, the commissioners denied the company’s request to waive the noncompliance fine and said the company must pay $50 per day until the problem is remedied.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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