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More cabins planned for back of Ajax

Brent Gardner-Smith

The largest landowner on the back of Aspen Mountain wants permission to build three 1,000-square-foot cabins in the Rural and Remote zone district.

The applications of the Castle Creek Investors group were filed on Sep. 13, 2000, to beat the deadline imposed by a statewide growth initiative, which failed to win approval.

The Rural and Remote zone district allows 1,000-square-foot cabins to be built on 35-acre parcels but does not allow utilities, such as electricity and phone service, to be connected to the cabins. Winter plowing of access roads is also prohibited.

CCI is proposing to build one cabin on a 53-acre parcel on the eastern side of Richmond Ridge. The cabin site is just down the ridge from the small lunch cabin used by Aspen Mountain Powder Tours, a snowcat skiing operation run by the Aspen Skiing Co.

The Summit parcel, as CCI has labeled the 53-acre site, has spectacular views of Independence Pass and offers easy access to the Powder Tours operation and to the high-quality backcountry ski terrain off of Richmond Ridge.

John Miller, president of CCI, said the cabin site could be worth as much as $2 million, even without utilities or easy winter access. “It’s spectacular,” he said.

Miller pointed out that the new cabin would not interfere in any way with the powder skiing operation, and that the group plans to continue leasing the neighboring lunch cabin to Powder Tours.

In addition to the Summit parcel, CCI controls a 470-acre parcel in the Little Annie basin, and Miller said that gives him the right to build 12 more Rural and Remote cabins.

And while he thinks it makes more sense to build a cluster of cabins on the Summit parcel instead of spreading them around the basin, he doesn’t want to go through a complicated and expensive land-use process.

“If the law would permit us, we’d cluster them up on the Summit claim,” Miller said. “But I’m not going to spend all the money to do it. It costs $500 an hour to take an application in front of the commissioners.”

Instead, Miller is now seeking approval for two other cabin sites on the Midnight Mine side of the mountain. He’s not sure whether CCI will pursue approvals for its remaining 10 cabin sites or sell off the development rights through the county’s TDR program.

CCI’s September application was for four cabin sites on the Midnight Mine side, but now the group intends to reduce its request to one or two cabins.

The proposed location, called the Ridge sites by CCI, is off of the road leading to the Sundeck restaurant on top of Aspen Mountain. The building sites are above the intersection of Midnight Mine Road and Little Annie Road, above Peter Bisset’s funky cabin that is adjacent to the road and in a meadow on the left just before the Sundeck road heads into the trees.

One cabin site would likely be visible from the Sundeck road, and a second site would be around the corner and not visible from the road. Both sites have exceptional views.

The CCI ownership group, which has owned the property since the late 1970s, recently garnered approval for a 2,400-square-foot cabin in the Rural and Remote zone on the Enough mining claim. But CCI sterlized 105 acres from additional development in exchange for the right to build a larger cabin than the zone district allows.

The group’s current applications are scheduled to go before the Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission on April 3.


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