Past road deal could kill golf club’s lawsuit
The former owner of the Maroon Creek Club signed an agreement that he would not protest future use of Stage Road, yet the present owners are suing the Music Associates of Aspen and the city over impacts to that very road.
And officials at the school and the city’s attorney say the club can expect a fierce battle if they pursue the lawsuit, which could affect the proposed Burlingame seasonal housing project.
“The MAA will fight this 100 percent,” said Jim Curtis, project director for the 104-unit Burlingame employee housing project. “If they feel they need to leverage the situation to slow down this project, to interfere with a project that may or may not come down the road, I can tell you right now the MAA is not going to let that happen.”
Last week the Maroon Creek Club sued the city of Aspen and the MAA in an effort to stop the Burlingame project from using New Stage Road and North and South Underpass roads. The club’s lawsuit alleges that the affordable housing project “will unnecessarily interfere with the use and enjoyment of the easements and rights of way expressly reserved by the Maroon Creek Club.”
But the city’s attorney says the lawsuit is a “frivolous” one based on a selective memory on the part of club owners.
He referred to a signed agreement between James Pearce, former owner of the club, and the Walter Paepcke Life Insurance Trust, which formerly owned the Burlingame Ranch. The housing site is now owned by the city of Aspen.
Dated Aug. 3, 1993, the agreement states that the Paepcke trust, as adjacent landowners, would not oppose the realignment of Stage Road. And in exchange, the document states that Pearce “will not protest, object to, or otherwise oppose” any application regarding the following issues: access to any portions of the Ranch along Stage Road, the location of any type of development “including without limitation employee housing,” and any other aspect of future development that does not have a “direct impact” on the Maroon Creek Club.
“I don’t think you need to be a judge or lawyer to understand that the Paepcke trust agreed to not object to the building of New Stage Road and in return retained the right to have access to their own property,” said John Worcester, city attorney. “Why else would they enter into the agreement if not to protect access to their land?”
Regarding the motive for the litigation, Curtis guessed the club was perhaps making a pre-emptive strike at the much-discussed, but not yet approved, Burlingame employee housing project.
According to a traffic analysis, the MAA would generate “minimal” traffic in the summer and “slightly higher” numbers in the winter that would not affect the club’s golf operations.
“I see this as a sad commentary on the part of the club, that basically they’re trying to hold the MAA hostage,” Curtis said.
Neither the Maroon Creek Club’s attorney, David Lenyo, nor a spokesman for the club could be reached for comment.
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