Pitco: Andlinger can keep water system | AspenTimes.com

Pitco: Andlinger can keep water system

Gerhard Andlinger finally received a break.

The Pitkin County commissioners agreed yesterday to allow the East Coast multimillionaire to keep a water system for his 7,500-square-foot house in a remote section of the county, even though it had been illegally installed with considerable environmental damage.

Andlinger, a wealthy investor who owns about 160 acres of property along East Sopris Creek, was the subject of Pitkin County’s first-ever permit revocation hearing last winter.

In the summer of 2001, county officials caught work crews on Andlinger’s property hauling a hill away in dump trucks and cutting a road and water line through wetlands and riparian zones, and across a steep hillside, without a building permit.

The violation was exacerbated after crews from Norris Homes ignored a stop work order and continued working, still without a permit.

The revocation hearing featured some of the most expensive attorneys in the county trying to deflect blame from their clients, who included Andlinger, prime contractor Norris Homes and the engineering firm Schmueser Gordon Meyer. Other businesses, including the national consulting firm OTAK, were also tripped up by the hearings, as was attorney Tom Smith, who was supposed to be lining up the approvals and paperwork for the project.

After several months of hearings, Andlinger gave up the fight and agreed to restore the gently sloping hill in front of his land and repair the damage, as much as possible, to the wetlands, river bottom and hillside. The county also directed him to abandon the illegal water system and use the well water.

Yesterday, Smith was before the commissioners outlining the restoration work that had been done and requesting permission to use the water system.

The original development approval had directed Andlinger to take water from a well near the location of his house. But the water’s flavor and smell was unsatisfactory, and there were health concerns about the water’s chemistry. Andlinger got in trouble after he directed workers to install lines from a spring located across the creek.

County officials have contended all along that they thought the water could be adequately treated, but Andlinger has always insisted otherwise.

In spite of a recommendation of denial from the community development department, the county commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to allow Andlinger to use the system he installed to reach the spring.

“I think staff’s point about making him undo things is relevant, but there is also a good argument that the public benefits by allowing him to use it,” said Commissioner Mick Ireland. “The damage is done. What we’d be dealing with is sealing up pipes and all of that business.”

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]

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