Lawsuit filed against Aspen Mountain cabin
Neighbors of a recently approved but not yet built cabin on the backside of Aspen Mountain filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that Pitkin County commissioners erred in approving the structure last month.
The Larsen family — led by former assistant Pitkin County attorney Marcella Larsen — vigorously opposed the proposed 1,000-square-foot cabin on a 7.7-acre mining claim near the intersection of Little Annie Road and Richmond Hill Road.
Larsen, whose family owns a rustic A-frame located near the proposed cabin, argued that the application to build the cabin should be denied because of a lack of vehicle access, view plane intrusions and alleged property devaluation that would come with the cabin’s construction.
Commissioners, however, disagreed and approved the project May 8, saying that Mike and Emily Kloser of Vail, who have long-standing ties to the Aspen area, had a private property right to build the cabin
On Wednesday, the Larsen family filed the lawsuit against the county commission and Kloser Investments.
The suit claims commissioners failed to conduct a special review of the vehicle access or driveway issue, which will require a permit from the U.S. Forest Service, which should render the approval invalid.
The Larsen lawsuit also takes issue with a May 7 visit commissioners made to the site of the proposed cabin.
The Larsens claim the site visit violated Colorado’s Open Meetings Law because it was not noticed properly, that commissioners failed to provide an agenda or minutes for it and that no other member of the public besides the Klosers, their representatives and commissioners attended, according to the lawsuit.
In addition, because of the inadequate notice, Larsen was unable to attend a substantial portion of the visit, the lawsuit states. That meant the “BOCC’s approval of the application was tainted by ex-parte communications between Kloser and three BOCC members during the improperly noticed site visit,” according to the suit.
The lawsuits asks the court to invalidate the BOCC’s approval.
Pitkin County Commissioner and board Chairwoman Patti Clapper said Wednesday she was not surprised by the lawsuit. She also said the board conducted the approval appropriately and did not engage in ex-parte communications with the Klosers or their representatives during the site visit.
“The site visit was very clear and above board,” Clapper said. “I was very careful to do that because I was managing the site visit.”
Furthermore, it was Larsen who engaged in ex-parte communications with Commissioner Greg Poschman, who recused himself from hearing and voting on the Kloser project, Clapper said.
A message left Thursday for Mike Kloser was not returned.
It’s almost time to ring in the new year and if your holiday schedule is shaping up to be as packed as mine, I wish you a well-deserved rest in 2024. In the meantime, it’s our chance to party, and party we shall.