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News in Brief

The Pitkin County commissioners voted Wednesday to approve the expansion of a Starwood subdivision home from 4,500 square feet to 23,250 square feet.The expansion will use seven transferable development rights to go above the allowable 5,750 square feet in the rural district. The home, owned by Tom and Connie Duckworth, is at 1000 S. Starwood Drive. The transferable development rights for the project cost an estimated $1.75 million and will preserve roughly 55 acres in rural Pitkin County. Pitkin County recently voted, on first reading, to limit house sizes in the upcoming land-use code. Since that code has not passed final approval, it does not apply in this case, and Pitkin County staff recommended approval.

A land swap between Pitkin County and the federal government, designed to protect 35 acres near Ashcroft, is bound for a vote on the Senate floor, according to the office of Sen. Ken Salazar.The U.S. Senate energy committee passed the bill, known as the Pitkin County Land Exchange Act, this week. Salazar, D-Colo., sponsored the measure.The bill calls for Pitkin County to transfer two parcels to the Forest Service, the Ryan parcel and about 18.2 acres of patented mining claims on Smuggler Mountain. These acquisitions will complete the Forest Service’s Ashcroft Preservation Project, initiated in 1980 to consolidate ownership in and around the historic ghost town of Ashcroft at the upper end of the Castle Creek valley. They also will help the Forest Service manage its lands on Smuggler, a heavily used recreational area.In return, the federal government will transfer three pieces of property to the county. They are a 5.5-acre tract south of Aspen that the county will transfer to private ownership after reserving a permanent public easement for a trail; nearly six acres on Smuggler Mountain that are near lands the county now owns; and a 40-acre tract of Bureau of Land Management land along the Crystal River, which will be subject to a permanent conservation easement limiting future use to recreational, fish and wildlife, and open space purposes.If the full Senate passes the bill, it would go to the U.S. House of Representatives for a floor vote, because an earlier version the House passed was slightly different from the version the Senate Energy Committee passed.Salazar aide Cody Wertz on Wednesday said a Senate vote r is expected in the next few weeks.


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