Shadow Mountain homesite hits hurdle
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Longtime Aspen resident Lyle Reeder has been trying since 1991 to get approvals to build a house on land he owns on the steep slopes at the base of Shadow Mountain.
His wait is now a little longer, as the Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday declined to grant him what are known as vested rights for three more years, meaning he would have had that much time to get his project started.
But the commissioners did agree to talk with him again about the matter on Dec. 17, giving him and his lawyer, Dan Shipp, that long to look over what an outright denial of vested rights might mean, and determine what their next move might be.
Reeder has approvals to build a 9,800-square-foot home on the parcel, which contains more than 39,000 square feet of terrain. The parcel he owns, located at 333 S. Second St., has been split off from a larger parcel, totaling more than 61,000 square feet, which was subdivided in 1993 so that part of the property could be turned over to the county to become part of the Midland Trail that skirts the bottom of Shadow Mountain on the edge of Aspen.
Reeder has never applied for a building permit to build the house, and since his approvals expire in February, he applied to have them extended for three years.
Reeder also had agreed to put $200,000 in escrow to guarantee construction of a bridge for the Midland Trail to span the driveway for his proposed house. At
Wednesday’s meeting, he requested permission to put up a financial instrument of security to guarantee the bridge would be built, rather than $200,000 in cash.
The commissioners balked at the idea of extending the vested rights for the project, noting that a new county land-use code is in place now, with a maximum single-family home size of 5,750 square feet. The board members generally agreed that Reeder’s proposal should undergo at least a site-plan review to ensure that it complies with certain requirements and restrictions built into the new county code.
Reeder and Shipp conceded that, in order to build a house of the size in the 1991 approvals, he will need to buy transferable development rights, known as TDRs. The county’s TDR program is intended to restrict development in rural areas and focus development in areas immediately adjacent to towns or cities; by acquiring TDRs a developer can build a house larger than the 5,750-square-foot size limit.
“I think it is important to maintain the 5,750 [house-size restrictions],” said Commissioner Rachel Richards. “I think it’s absolutely essential that site-plan review occur after a certain amount of time.” Her fellow commissioners agreed.
At one point, Richards made a motion to deny the request for an extension of vested rights, but the motion did not pass when both Commissioners Patti Clapper and Michael Owsley voted “no” (Commissioner Jack Hatfield was absent).
Owsley indicated he agreed with Richards that the project should undergo site-plan review, but that he was willing to delay the matter until Shipp and Reeder could look into what site-plan review might mean for the project.
The commissioners then voted unanimously to continue the hearing on Reeder’s proposal to Dec. 17.
The board also agreed that Reeder would not be required to put the $200,000 in escrow if he could come up with sufficient security to pledge toward the construction of the pedestrian bridge.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the descent that poses a challenge.