Support for Red Mountain donation not unanimous
A minority of the homeowners on Red Mountain did not want to donate a 55-acre parcel to Pitkin County, preferring instead to sell to the highest bidder, the president of the homeowners association said Wednesday.
“Some people up there want to sell it,” Jerry Murdock, president of the Red Mountain Ranch Homeowners Association, told Pitkin County commissioners Wednesday. “They don’t care about environmental concerns.”
However, Murdock said he was able to persuade a majority of homeowners at the top of the development on Red Mountain to support donating the parcel, which is owned by the homeowners association as common area. The group thought about donating it to the U.S. Forest Service, but realized that agency could at some point decide to sell it, he said. That made donation to Pitkin County a better option.
The three commissioners who attended Wednesday’s meeting — Commissioners Patti Clapper and Rachel Richards were out of town — unanimously agreed to accept the donation provided an analysis of the property’s rockfall mitigation issues doesn’t find anything exceptionally expensive to deal with.
The Open Space and Trails board also has voted to approve accepting the donation, Commissioner Greg Poschman said.
The property will be accepted as part of the county’s Open Space and Trails Program when commissioners hear the issue again May 9, which is the same date the county is scheduled to close on the property under terms of a contract signed in March.
“This is a terrific gift from the homeowners association to the county,” Commissioner Steve Child said. “The main benefit … is preserving the viewplane. Everybody in town can see this property.”
While the acreage will be considered part of the county’s open space, it will not be open to public recreation. The area harbors wildlife habitat for bears, deer, elk and other animals and contains mainly steep slopes inappropriate for trials, county officials have said.
Richard Neilly, assistant county attorney, said the open space program will not actively manage the property, though it could perform wildfire and weed mitigation if necessary.
Murdock later declined to say how much the donated property would be worth on the open market. He also said he didn’t remember how many owners of the 44 lots in the homeowners association voted against the donation.
County Manager Jon Peacock said the property currently doesn’t have an assessed valuation because it is considered “common area.” Because of its location on Red Mountain, it would clearly be valuable to a person with the means to invest the money and time to make it developable, he said.
Red Mountain is home to some of the most expensive homes in Pitkin County.
The parcel is located above the highest row of homes on Red Mountain and stretches from the Hunter Creek side of the mountain past the first gully that comes down from the top, Poschman has said. The acreage extends about 150 yards up the mountain from the top row of homes, he said.
A civil deputy kept her job and was mandated to undergo counseling after Aspen police arrested her in July on suspicion of driving under the influence and reckless driving.
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