Stillwater faces more delays from neighbor
July 11, 2002
Pitkin County delayed a contract with Shaw Construction yesterday, adding at least another two weeks to the start date of an affordable housing project that is already months behind schedule.
The county commissioners were forced to delay work on the 17-unit Stillwater project after neighbors Linda and Stewart Resnick refused to allow non-natural roofing materials, such as traditional tar shingles, in the project.
According to information released by the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, the Resnicks, who own a vacant lot immediately adjacent to the county-owned Stillwater lot, are insisting the project use either wood shake shingles or slate for the roofing. In doing so, they are exercising a clause in the Stillwater Homeowners Association covenants that requires the Housing Authority to use “natural” materials on the exterior of all buildings within 100 feet of neighboring lots.
The Resnicks actually live about a half mile from the Stillwater site in an 18,000-square-foot mansion. The couple derive their fortune from the Franklin Mint, a mail order company that sells collector dinner plates adorned with historical scenes and popular figures on television.
If built as planned, Stillwater would house at least 13 families and four singles or couples in 17 units that together add up to about 24,000 square feet in area. The couple has also filed notice of their intention to sue if work proceeds.
Shaw Construction, one of five companies to bid on the Stillwater project, was to be awarded the contract yesterday. The housing authority, which is building the project, had hoped to begin construction immediately in order to force the Resnicks to seek a restraining order and begin legal action.
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“This delay is happening because a single landowner doesn’t want to see affordable housing on the way to his mansion,” County Commissioner Mick Ireland said.
The delay came at the request of Ed Sadler, Aspen’s assistant city manager. Sadler will soon be responsible for overseeing the affordable housing program, once an agreement between the city and county is finalized later this summer. He said the design team is planning to meet Friday to discuss alternatives for roofing materials.
“There are things other than wood and slate that meet the covenants,” Sadler said. He declined to specify what those other things are, however. “I’m not ready to go there yet,” he said.
Sadler said it is critical that the work begin this summer, because further delays could force construction costs up, resulting in a smaller or less well-built project.
“All I really want is to give the team more time to come up with more options,” Sadler said.
The Resnicks’ attorney could not be reached for comment.
[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]