Land trust wins initial OK for Ashcroft house | AspenTimes.com
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Land trust wins initial OK for Ashcroft house

Jeremy Heiman

Aspen Valley Land Trust, an organization dedicated to the preservation of open land, received preliminary approval Wednesday for construction of a 10,000-square-foot house on a parcel of land in Ashcroft.

This seemingly improbable scenario is actually just one step in the process of saving another property, the Ryan parcel in the heart of Ashcroft Ski Touring, from development. AVLT, along with Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails program and an alliance of other groups and individuals, purchased the Ryan parcel and negotiated a trade for another lot to be carved out of U.S. Forest Service land just north of the ski area, on Devaney Creek.

If the land exchange is successfully completed, the so-called Devaney parcel must be sold for development in order for AVLT to repay its portion of the Ryan parcel purchase price. The trust borrowed the money from Open Space and Trails. And the development approval is necessary to raise the asking price of the property sufficiently to repay AVLT’s loan.

In addition to the land-use approval, AVLT is asking Pitkin County to rezone the property from AF-SKI, a ski area and residential designation, to AFR-10, the common residential and agricultural designation for developable land.

The application also asks the county to amend its code to allow transferable development rights (TDRs) to be taken from areas outside the Fryingpan River drainage to increase allowable development in areas outside the Aspen metro area. Currently, TDRs from areas other than the Fryingpan can only be used within the metro area. AVLT may wish to apply TDRs from another area to the Devaney parcel to increase the allowable square footage on the lot.

AVLT has also asked for exemption from the county’s growth management quota system, which requires developers to either provide affordable housing or cash in lieu of housing, based on the square footage of development.

The application calls for a barn, fencing and outbuildings to accommodate horses. Ashcroft resident Lynne Mace, whose Toklat Gallery property is adjacent to the parcel, voiced opposition to the horse facilities, noting the animals quickly damage high-elevation meadows.

Commissioner Dorothea Farris agreed that horses are destructive.

“I think the priority ought to be, `what do we need to do to protect the meadows?’ ” Farris said.

All four requests were approved by county commissioners on first reading, but Farris and Commissioner Mick Ireland opposed approval of the development application because of the house size.


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