Snowmass councilman participates in Related WestPac review despite objection
Aspen, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Despite bias allegations and calls to recuse himself, Snowmass Village Councilman Reed Lewis cast his vote on Related WestPac matters at Monday’s town council meeting.
Recently, attorneys for Snowmass Base Village developer Related WestPac threatened legal action and accused Lewis of bias (Lewis owns a Snowmass Village liquor store), claiming Lewis threatened company staff over a dispute about overdue rent.
On Jan. 22, under threat of affidavits from Related WestPac attorney, the town council tabled all Related WestPac issues until the matter was cleared.
“For the record, Related WestPac’s objection to council member Reed Lewis’ participation in voting on quasi-judicial matters relating to its business … still stands,” Related WestPac CEO Pat Smith read from a prepared statement during public comment at the beginning of Monday’s town council meeting.
Smith expressed concern over the start-and-stop negotiations between Lewis and Related WestPac for retail space in Base Village, now under construction, and said he is concerned that the approval process for the project could be tainted.
But negotiations between Lewis and the company have ceased, Smith said.
“We are hoping that the stopping of negotiations does not give rise to a perceived conflict of interest,” Smith said.
“The whole controversy is over,” Lewis said later.
The liquor store owner said he was in negotiations for a space in Base Village, and he recused himself from an earlier vote. Lewis later pulled out of negotiations, adding there was no bad blood between him and the company.
Lewis, however, sat in on a recent meeting with other business owners and Pat Smith, a move that might have sent mixed signals, Lewis said.
The company CEO hopes the alleged disagreement between Related WestPac and Lewis is in the past. And, like Mayor Douglas “Merc” Mercatoris, also a company tenant, and Councilman Arnie Mordkin, who rents space from another West Village landlord, Smith said he hopes Lewis can be objective.
“Related WestPac hopes for fair judgment based on the merits of the applications sitting before Town Council,” Smith said, adding that the company will “reserve its rights if those votes are ever challenged.”
Faced with the first Related WestPac matter in council chambers Monday, however, Mordkin said he still was confused.
“They have not dealt with that issue,” Mordkin said. “Are you requesting that councilman Lewis recuse himself from Related WestPac matters?”
Smith said according to town ordinance it is up to Lewis whether he will recuse himself.
“I have nothing in black and white,” said town attorney John Dresser. Related WestPac did not produce any motions asking for Lewis to recuse himself nor any affidavits claiming misconduct, Dresser said.
“We are not making a motion. We’re just simply stating the facts as we see them,” Smith said.
The Snowmass Village council went on to modify and approve a plan for a temporary coffee kiosk at Base Village, and Lewis cast his vote.
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