Open space bill may lose worrisome amendment |

Open space bill may lose worrisome amendment

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The sponsor of state legislation that would limit Aspen’s ability to acquire open space may withdraw the amendment that has riled Aspen, Telluride and a host of other municipalities across the state.

House Bill 1203 could go to the House floor today, where one legislative observer is predicting it will see heated debate. However, the amendment to the bill that Aspen finds particularly objectionable is expected to be withdrawn by its sponsor, Rep. Shawn Mitchell, a Republican from Broomfield.

The Telluride Daily Planet reported yesterday that Mitchell has indicated he’ll pull the amendment aimed at prohibiting home-rule municipalities from acquiring open space beyond their borders through condemnation.

According to the Daily Planet, Mitchell made a verbal commitment to Colorado Environmental Coalition lobbyist Will Coyne to drop the provision on extraterritorial condemnation from the legislation.

“Representative Mitchell has committed to us to pull the amendment,” Coyne said in the Daily Planet.

A staffer in Mitchell’s office confirmed Thursday that the legislator does intend to rescind the amendment.

It appears the bill may make it to the House floor for debate today, according to lobbyist Sam Mamet of the Colorado Municipal League. He has been pushing for the bill’s defeat on behalf of various CML members.

“It is going to be a raucous debate, I guarantee it,” Mamet said.

Possible outcomes, should the bill receive debate today, are many, according to Mamet.

Even if the amendment regarding condemnation powers is withdrawn, Mamet said the issue could return in the form of another bill before the current legislative session is over.

“Until the Legislature adjourns in early May, this issue is not dead,” he predicted.

The amendment to House Bill 1203 is apparently aimed at halting the town of Telluride’s attempt to acquire some 570 acres near its entrance through condemnation. The effective date of the amendment is retroactive to Jan. 1.

The amendment would affect Aspen’s ability to acquire open space ” most notably private lands on Smuggler Mountain ” through condemnation. The legislation would also bar the city from contributing financially to the purchase of Smuggler land should Pitkin County pursue condemnation of the property.

Both governments have made Smuggler an open space priority, though they’ve made no decision to take the condemnation route.

The city made an undisclosed offer to Smuggler landowner George “Wilk” Wilkinson for his property last year; Wilkinson turned it down.

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