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Hatfield not giving up council position

Allyn Harvey

Anyone who voted for Jack Hatfield in last week’s race for county commissioner because they wanted to get him off the Snowmass Village Town Council – and there are a number of people who said that’s why they voted for him – is in for a disappointment.

Hatfield said last week that he is planning to hold on to his Town Council seat, even after he’s sworn in as a county commissioner in January.

“I will eventually resign my seat in Snowmass, but right now it’s an [uncertain] date that depends on what’s going on in Snowmass Village politics,” he said.

News of Hatfield’s intent was a surprise to at least one colleague on the Town Council. “My understanding was that Jack was going to resign if he was elected, at least that’s what he’s been saying for the last six months,” said council member Doug Mercatoris.

The announcement provoked a more cautious response from the Aspen Skiing Company, which has found itself on the opposite side from Hatfield on several issues over the years. “Jack Hatfield’s decision is between him and the town of Snowmass Village, and we certainly have no opinion one way or another,” said Skico vice president John Norton.

But if Hatfield sticks around long enough to have a say about base village, the Skico’s pending application to build tourist, residential and retail accommodations at the bottom of Fanny Hill at Snowmass, the company’s top brass may end up with an opinion.

Hatfield confirmed last Thursday that he hopes to remain on the Town Council until the sketch plan for base village comes up for review. The sketch plan review is the first of three stages in the approval process.

Over many years on Snowmass Village’s Planning Commission and Town Council, Hatfield has proven to be a thorn in the company’s side on development proposals, including the plan in the early 1990s to expand skiing to Burnt Mountain and a more recent proposal to redevelop the Snowmass Club.

“I think Jack’s been a real stickler about complying with the land use code,” said Skico planning director Bill Kane. “It’s certainly fair to say he’s been a tough reviewer.”

But Hatfield might need to stick around awhile before the sketch plan comes up for review. “Certainly there won’t be anything this year, and it might not be until next summer before we get around to submitting anything,” Kane said.

Kane also noted the Skico is still working through the approval process with the second phase of its redevelopment of the Snowmass Club and said Skico would like to be further along with that application before it begins a second one.

There is nothing in either Pitkin County’s home rule charter or the town of Snowmass Village code that prevents Hatfield from holding both seats, according to sources familiar with the law.

“Bill Tuite became a county commissioner and remained on the Aspen City Council for some time, until a replacement was appointed,” recalled Commissioner Mick Ireland.

Ireland promised that Hatfield would find plenty of grief with his upcoming job on the board of county commissioners and wasn’t sure why he would want to get a double dose by remaining on the Town Council.

Mercatoris said he planned to talk to Hatfield about his plans this weekend and expected the issue to come up at today’s Snowmass Village Town Council meeting. Mercatoris said he didn’t think it was right for someone to hold both seats, though he’s not sure it’s a problem for a short time.

“Jack could be in a difficult situation if we end up in some kind of negotiations with the county, which happens sometimes,” Mercatoris said.


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