Neighbor of vet isn’t biting on new plan for site
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A Gerbazdale property owner is trying to rally her neighbors to oppose a plan to replace an animal hospital and kennel with an excavation equipment storage yard.
Kathy Risner, a neighbor of longtime local veterinarian A.J. Games, said she was never notified of plans to replace Aspen Valley Animal Hospital with a parking and maintenance facility for snow removal equipment. The site is at the intersection of Watson Divide Road and Highway 82.
Games (pronounced Gamez) is under contract to sell his 3.1-acre property to Aspen Snow Removal, which plans to use the property as an equipment yard for seven pickup trucks of various sizes, two Jeeps and a dump truck.
Because the proposed use is not in line with the zoning that applies to the property, the sale is contingent on approval by Pitkin County. Land-use regulations currently limit the Games property to just two uses, a vet and kennel or a single-family home.
Risner said her plans to build a home on her nine-acre lot next door are now threatened by the prospect of the dump truck’s massive diesel engine starting up early in the morning and all the attendant noises that come with heavy equipment.
In a letter to his neighbors – a letter that Risner says she never received – Games explained that he is planning to move Aspen Valley Animal Hospital downvalley, where he can expand operations.
The letter alerted Games’ neighbors of a Sept. 24 hearing on the Aspen Snow Removal application. It also notes that Aspen Snow Removal “will actually bring significantly less impact to this property than the present veterinary hospital does.”
But Risner doesn’t buy it. “I like the dogs next door. I don’t want heavy equipment starting up at 3:30 in the morning,” she said.
Risner also said she feels deceived by the fact that the real estate broker involved in the deal said the company only planned to use the lot in the winter, when in fact Aspen Snow Removal is a year-round operation that hauls gravel and repairs asphalt in the summer.
Games’ letter of notification never reached Risner because it was sent to her ex-husband’s office. But she noted that the other neighbor, the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board, didn’t receive notification either.
Rick Neiley, a member of the open space board, said neither the board nor program director Dale Will received the notification letter. One was, however, apparently sent to the county.
Neiley, an attorney, has since been hired by Risner to help her oppose Aspen Snow Removal’s application.
The Open Space and Trails program owns property across the river and on the upvalley side of Games’ lot. Highway 82 separates the Games property from the only neighboring properties that actually have homes.
At the Sept. 24 hearing, the commissioners postponed making a decision at Risner’s request. However, it appears they were leaning in favor of Aspen Snow Removal’s plan for the property, because they directed staff to draft a resolution of approval with conditions.
The matter will go before the commissioners again at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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