Pitkin County landowner seeks deal, would preserve cabins | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County landowner seeks deal, would preserve cabins

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” An unidentified landowner wants a 20-year window ” instead of the normal three years ” in which to build a large home on West Sopris Creek Road in Pitkin County, and has offered to designate a couple of dilapidated cabins on the property as historic in return.

The property, known as Middle Fender Ranch, has been a cattle ranch for most of its 123-year history, and has been owned by some of the more notable names among the Roaring Fork Valley’s pioneering families.

The two cabins, which together contain about 1,000 square feet of living space, both date back to the era when the land was homesteaded by its original owner, W.S. Swearingen, in 1886. For the past four decades, the land has been owned and ranched by Bill and Pat Fender, according to a report prepared for the historic-designation application, although it was previously owned by various members of the Cerise family and by such local pioneers as Sterling Price Ross.

An historic designation would ensure the preservation of the cabins.

But it is now in the hands of a limited liability corporation, which already has received permission to build a 15,000-square-foot home on the 350-acre property, located on the road leading from Emma toward the base of Mount Sopris.

The Pitkin County commissioners will meet with the owner’s representatives, the law firm of Klein, Cote and Edwards, during a work session Tuesday.

Attorney Jody Edwards on Monday declined to identify the owners of the property beyond it’s corporate name ” Middle Ranch LLC.

As to why the property owner wants 20 years in which to decide whether and how to build, Edwards said it is largely to avoid being rushed by what he described as the comparatively tight deadline imposed by a normal three-year “vested rights” approval.

The discussion is to begin at 11:30 a.m. in the Rio Grande Meeting Room, which is in the former Aspen Youth Center building situated between the Pitkin County jail and the Rio Grande Parking Garage.


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