Pitkin County commissioners on board with rural and remote event restrictions | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County commissioners on board with rural and remote event restrictions

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

With a March 18 deadline looming on their moratorium that places restrictions on special events in Pitkin County’s most sensitive areas, elected officials tentatively agreed Wednesday to a revision of the land-use code for the rural and remote district.

County commissioners voted 4-0 on the first reading of the special-events code rewrite that concerns property in the zoning district that typically abuts U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property and is above 9,300 feet. They indicated plans to tweak the thresholds on the proposed regulations for rural and remote (see chart on A11), but delayed a decision on the county’s two other districts — the rural zone and the urban growth boundary.

Commissioners hope to formally approve the new regulations for rural and remote in time to beat the moratorium, which bans permits that “allow for structures, temporary, permanent or of any kind that would violate the use and dimension restrictions.”

The special-events code for rural and remote takes effect 30 days after it is publicly noticed. Commissioners said they want something in place before the moratorium expires, but said they would extend the moratorium if necessary.

In the meantime, commissioners can take more time and gather more feedback before deciding special-event regulations for the rural zone and urban growth boundary.

Commissioners passed the moratorium June 18 in reaction to last summer’s wedding event on the backside of Aspen Mountain. The controversy stemmed from the gala being held in the county’s rural and remote district. A temporary chapel was erected, along with a 27,000-square-foot tent for the reception and other structures to accommodate the wedding held at the Little Annie Basin.

The proposed regulation for the county’s three zones has not been without push back. Several caucuses — most of which are located in the county’s rural districts — have expressed concerns about the county’s regulating private parties and functions on private properties. Commissioners said they want more input from the caucuses before they decide on how to regulate special events for rural areas. Likewise, they want to hear from municipalities about the urban growth boundary.

“The big part of this is to make sure neighbors are aware (of an event that could potentially affect their quality of life),” county planner Mike Kraemer told commissioners.

Last year, the county issued 35 to 40 permits for special events. That’s double the number of permits issued a decade ago, according to a study done by Aspen-based Alan Richman Planning Services Inc.