Golf club: Get your own road
The Maroon Creek Club is “protecting its rights” with its lawsuit to block use of roads serving the private golf club to also access proposed affordable housing near the club, according to a club attorney.
The club reluctantly filed suit last week after talks on finding alternate access to proposed housing at the city-owned Burlingame Ranch broke down, according to David Lenyo, attorney for the Maroon Creek Club.
The club is suing the city and Music Associates of Aspen over use of New Stage Road, which serves the golf course and the club’s residential development. It could also serve the seasonal housing project proposed by MAA and the city on a portion of the ranch. Burlingame is located between the Maroon Creek Club and Aspen Airport Business Center, west of town.
According to MAA representatives, a search for other access was abandoned when the Colorado Department of Transportation withdrew its support. CDOT wants to limit the number of roads intersecting with Highway 82 and reportedly supports shared use of the road by the club and housing development.
New Stage Road replaced Old Stage Road as the only access from Burlingame Ranch to Highway 82. It also cuts a swath through both the club’s golf course and some of its residential development.
In its lawsuit, the club contends traffic generated from the proposed seasonal housing project would unacceptably compromise the club’s golf and residential operations.
“After two months of discussing alternatives, two months of holding back legal action, the Maroon Creek Club only filed upon learning that the city and MAA were no longer considering any alternative [to using New Stage Road],” Lenyo said. “That forced us to file the lawsuit. The club is now single-handedly pursuing alternatives.”
Jim Curtis, project director for the 104-unit Burlingame seasonal project, said the decision to back off on discussion of reopening Old Stage Road as a primary access for the housing project was “really out of our control.
“At this point there’s only one legal, open access from the [Burlingame] property. Any alternative needs the consent and blessing of CDOT and it was made very clear that CDOT was not interested, given that there was a perfectly acceptable public road in place already,” Curtis said.
The roads that are the subject of the Maroon Creek Club’s suit, New Stage Road and North and South Underpass, were dedicated to the city in 1996. Technically, they are public roads, but the club retained “encroachment rights” or easement interests to the roads, according to Lenyo.
It is the easement interest, he said, that should ensure the continued integrity or value of the club’s property.
“The city and the MAA have known all along that the Maroon Creek Club has had very real concerns about the traffic generated by its project as well the other [Burlingame] project,” said Lenyo, referring to a second housing development proposed elsewhere at the ranch. “We don’t dispute that they’re public roads, but we kept easement interests specifically to protect our rights.”
That’s all well and good, countered Curtis, but the final word on reopening Old Stage Road is in CDOT’s hands, not the MAA’s, nor the city’s. Ralph Trapani, CDOT’s lead engineer on the Highway 82 widening project, has been “adamantly consistent on his point of view,” Curtis added.
“Ralph’s job is to eliminate curbsides [intersections] to 82, not to create new ones,” Curtis said. “His concern is that there are a lot of different elements merging there into that hub at Buttermilk: HOV lanes, buses, two lanes to four, and so on. Introducing a new access would have a negative effect on the stoplight and flow of traffic.”
According to Lenyo, the club “is confident that a local judge or jury will consider the facts and will ultimately rule on behalf of the club’s constitutionally protected private property interests.”
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