Project could provide critical link for Aspen trail |

Project could provide critical link for Aspen trail

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Pitkin County officials are reviewing a development plan for three proposed houses that, if approved, could provide a crucial link in the East of Aspen Trail.

But the project has run into some resistance from members of the Board of County Commissioners who feel that at least one of the proposed houses in the project would be too close to the Roaring Fork River.

The project is part of the Knollwood subdivision, which straddles Highway 82 east of Aspen and which was mostly built out during the 1960s and 1970s.

But the lots now being considered are on the downhill side of Highway 82, just upvalley from Stillwater Drive, on a strip of land between the highway and the river.

While several homes were built at the upvalley end of this portion of Knollwood, a number of lots were approved by the county in the 1960s but never were developed because they are dominated by steep slopes leading down to the river and are traversed by the Salvation Ditch.

“If ever there was a constrained lot, that is a constrained lot,” said Commissioner George Newman, considering one of several illustrations of the project displayed by planner Glenn Horn.

Horn told the commissioners that, while the lots are about 16,000 square feet in size, because of the slopes involved, the ditch and the county’s rules regarding streamside development, the homes will be limited to about 2,000 square feet. He explained the developers have agreed to bury the ditch in a culvert as it crosses their land, and that a unique driveway design will provide access to the lots without requiring multiple access points on the highway.

The developers ” Pitco Zero LLC, Trigar Investments LP and Ali Reza Rasstegar ” are asking the county to extend their “vested rights,” or development approvals that were granted under the county’s old land-use codes. If the vested rights expire as scheduled in October, the developers would have to meet the current, far stricter requirements to keep all structures at least 100 feet from the river’s edge.

As an incentive for the extension, they are offering to give the city of Aspen a formal easement for a section of the East of Aspen Trail that already is built across their land.

The developers also have offered to extend that easement farther upvalley, across other lots they hope to develop, so the city trail could link up with the county’s portion of the trail, which begins at Stillwater Road.

Brian Flynn of the city parks department said the easement would enable the city to complete its part of the trail and connect to the county portion.

The proposal was put on hold for two weeks to give Horn and other development representatives time to work with the city on figuring out a trail easement, and to give Horn a chance to reconfigure the building envelope of one of the lots to get the proposed house farther from the river’s edge.

The next meeting on the proposal will be on March 9.

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