Snowmass tables decisions on Base Village
Aspen, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Snowmass Town Councilman Reed Lewis won’t recuse himself from Base Village decisions.
Just one hour before the beginning of the Snowmass Town Council meeting Tuesday, a Boulder-based attorney for Base Village developer Related WestPac called on town attorney John Dresser, questioning Lewis’ fitness to vote on Base Village matters.
The attorney promised signed affidavits concerning Lewis by Friday, Dresser said.
Lewis, who owns a liquor store and until recently had been negotiating for space at Base Village, said he could be impartial.
“I would suggest that you table this immediately,” Dresser told council members Tuesday regarding the first of a handful of scheduled Related WestPac decisions. “Otherwise any action you take is probably tainted.”
The council then voted unanimously to table all Base Village decisions until attorneys can clear up the matter.
“There has been a start-stop-start-stop negotiation about space in Base Village,” said Related WestPac CEO Pat Smith.
Lewis sat in on a recent discussion between Smith and the owners of Fuel, a Snowmass Village mall coffee shop, about moving to Base Village, Smith said. The group discussed who would be the right retail tenants for the new space, Smith said, adding that Lewis “nodded” about attending further negotiations.
“This whole process has been somewhat tainted,” Smith said, adding he wanted to “clear the air” before any council deliberations. “We want to make sure that the process is clean.”
Lewis recused himself from an earlier Base Village issue because he was considering a move to the new Base Village, and Smith said he is concerned that any decision made under any apparent impropriety could be later overturned.
At the Town Council meeting Jan. 7, another Related WestPac attorney claimed Lewis had threatened to “make it difficult” when a company official tried to collect overdue rent.
Lewis denied the allegation, saying he never threatened anyone and had promptly paid his rent.
The council faced a handful of Related WestPac decisions Tuesday’s meeting, including a vote on new Base Village kiosks, as well as issues surrounding the Club Commons affordable housing proposal ” a project with ties to Related WestPac.
“I’m very disappointed that we are not able to go forward with Club Commons,” said Councilman John Wilkinson.
Mayor Douglas “Merc” Mercatoris and Councilwoman Sally Sparhawk also expressed disappointment over the delay, but the group voted unanimously to continue the Related WestPac decisions until the council’s Feb. 4 meeting.
“He has an obligation to the people who elected him,” Dresser said, adding that it is up to Lewis to decide whether he can be impartial. But Dresser recommended taking time to consider any Related WestPac legal action before moving forward.
“I believe that caution is the word of the day today,” he said.
Smith said if Lewis comes out of closer inspection with a clean nose, then Smith has no problem with Lewis voting on any Base Village matter.
“As long as that issue is hanging over our heads, let’s get it resolved,” said Councilman Arnie Mordkin.
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.