Pitco moves to secure access to Hunter Creek
Pitkin County yesterday gave final approval to a legal settlement that secures access to Hunter Creek.The county commissioners voted 5-0 to approve an agreement that ends close to 18 years of legal wrangling over the north access to one of Aspen’s most popular wilderness areas.Yesterday’s hearing on the settlement with Tom and Bonnie McCloskey and other property owners took the bulk of the afternoon, as people stood up to applaud or criticize the county on the deal.Although they recognized that the terms weren’t ideal, the commissioners defended the settlement. If the case were to proceed in the federal court system, it was pointed out, there is a chance that the north access could be lost altogether.The access road in the settlement is near the top of the road on Red Mountain. It passes by some of the most exclusive real estate in the United States to a gate that opens into the White River National Forest.The McCloskeys’ home, built in the late 1980s, was located just a few hundred feet from the road. An attempt by the McCloskeys to close off the north road led to a lawsuit and a 1993 trial in U.S. District Court.In 2001, the McCloskeys built an alternative access road across their property that is not so close to their home. The agreement turns that new road into the official access.The agreement represents two years of negotiations with a federal appeals court mediator, involving a number of private property owners, the county and the Friends of Hunter Creek, a group that has long battled to maintain the scenic valley northeast of town as Aspen’s backyard playground.
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