Neighbors sue to stop Stillwater | AspenTimes.com
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Neighbors sue to stop Stillwater

John Colson

The second lawsuit to stop the planned Stillwater affordable housing project was filed Friday by three neighboring property owners.

The parties in the suit, Stewart and Lynda Resnick, Vernon and Kathleen Friesenhahn and the Roll International Corporation, own two parcels next door to the proposed site on Aspen’s east side.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed late last summer. Both name as defendants the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority and the Pitkin County Commissioners and ask a judge to overturn the county’s approvals for the Stillwater project.

The first suit was filed in August 2000, after the county granted conceptual approval, along with conceptual rezoning, for the Stillwater project in July 2000.

The latest suit was filed by the Denver law firm of Otten, Johnson, Robinson, Neff and Ragonetti, after final approval and final rezoning were granted a month ago.

The Resnicks and Roll International own a 70-acre parcel next to the Stillwater project, while the Friesenhahns own a separate parcel, the size of which is not detailed in the suit, in the adjacent Knollwood subdivision.

Stillwater is less than five acres of land along Stillwater Road off Highway 82. The property, according to the suit, was zoned for “low to moderate density residential development under the Pitkin County land-use code.”

The suit maintains that “multi-family residences were not permitted on the property under its prior zoning,” and that the county overstepped its own bounds in approving a 17-unit townhouse project on the property.

The plaintiffs’ objections include “the lack of compatibility between the project and the surrounding area,” as well as with the “scenic overlay review criteria” of the county land-use code.

In addition, the suit maintains, the county gave “preferred treatment” to the land-use application for the project, because both the county and the housing authority want to see affordable housing built on the land.

The suit says that there is “an apparent conflict of interest” on the part of County Commissioner Shellie Roy, because she also serves on the housing authority board as liaison to the commissioners.

The county’s actions, according to the suit, were “arbitrary, capricious, not supported by the record … constituted an abuse of discretion and [were] illegal” under the Pitkin County land-use code, the Colorado Revised Statutes, the Colorado and United States constitutions and the common law.

The suit asks a judge to find that the county was wrong in granting approvals for the project and that the approvals and rezoning are invalid.

The plaintiffs’ objections include “the lack of compatibility between the project and the surrounding area.”

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