Wilk upset over ruling on takings
Pitkin County commissioners unanimously agreed Wednesday that a “takings” did not occur on Smuggler Mountain Road.
Ownership of the road, frequently used by area hikers, bikers, runners and such, has been the source of a long-standing dispute between the county and Smuggler Mountain landowner Wilk Wilkinson.
At an Aug. 17 hearing, Wilkinson charged that the county’s actions amounted to a takings – that government action regarding public access and maintenance of the road had stripped his land of all or most of its value. The commissioners contend the road is a county road.
Wilkinson filed the takings claim after he made improvements to a section of the road by widening it, using his own adjacent land, and then fell into a dispute with the county over ownership of the new, wider road.
Along with the squabble over the status of the road, Wilkinson has long been fighting with the county to develop his land holdings on Smuggler.
“Had the [commissioners] been a little more honest, they would have recognized that there was a takings,” Wilkinson said of yesterday’s resolution. “They’re just trying to delay the inevitable of paying me for the road or granting me development rights.”
“It’s my property, I paid for it, and if they want it, they’ve got to pay for it. I find their decision unconscionable.”
Wilkinson said the next chapter of the Smuggler debate will resume when the county reviews his latest land-use application for the property. “We’ll negotiate from there,” he said.
The dispute between Wilkinson and the county dates back to 1987, shortly after Wilkinson took control of property on Smuggler and began making plans to develop it. Smuggler Mountain flanks Aspen on the town’s east side.
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