Shadow Mtn. homeowner sues Pitco |

Shadow Mtn. homeowner sues Pitco

Naomi Havlen

A man who built a home at the foot of Shadow Mountain in Aspen is suing Pitkin County, claiming the county commissioners denied him access to his land in 2003.

Thomas Lewis owns three lots in the Little Cloud Subdivision at the bottom of the mountain.

Lewis, who filed the lawsuit on Friday, claims the board unfairly denied his takings request in March. He wants a judge to reverse the board’s denial of the takings request.

The lawsuit also asks that the commissioners determine an amount to compensate Lewis for the takings.

The landowner has had a permit to build an access road to his three properties on Shadow Mountain since the early 1990s. The development he plans in the area is for a four-lot subdivision on the hill’s lower slopes. According to the lawsuit, when the subdivision was approved the county studied the natural and man-made hazards associated with the project, including potential avalanches and rock falls.

As a result of the studies, a 30-foot private driveway access and utility easement was added to the plans, which is the only means of access to Lewis’ three lots, according to the lawsuit.

But the suit says that on Aug. 1, 2000, Terry Taylor purchased a lot in the subdivision, including a residence on the property. Lewis received a permit from the county’s planning director for the access driveway on Sept. 25, 2002, but Taylor appealed the issuance of the permit on Oct. 16, 2002.

The suit claims that Taylor told commissioners the construction of the driveway extension would exacerbate hazards to his property – hazards that were ignored by the county during their approval of the project in 1990.

The county commissioners agreed with Taylor on Feb. 11, 2003, denying Lewis’ plan to build the driveway extension.

In the suit, Lewis asks for a judicial review of the commissioners’ actions. “The Commissioners did not consider or effectively disregarded that the denial of the development permit (for the driveway) effectively denied all feasible access to Lots 2, 3, and 4,” the suit claims.

Lewis is the plaintiff in the suit, along with John R. Tucker and Cottonwood Gardens Development, co-owners of the three lots.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is