A Pandora’s trade off? | AspenTimes.com

A Pandora’s trade off?

If memory serves, in the last Pitkin Board of County Commissioners hearing on Aspen Skiing Co.’s Pandora application, Pitkin County counsel advised the board in open session that it could not exact a real property interest such as a restrictive non-development covenant on properties outside the proposed rezoning as a quid pro quo for granting the application.

Presumably counsel was referring to Colorado Revised Statute § 29-20-203(1), which provides in relevant part that “in imposing conditions upon the granting of land-use approvals, no local government shall require an owner of private property to dedicate real property to the public … unless there is an essential nexus between the dedication … and a legitimate local government interest, and the dedication … is roughly proportional both in nature and extent to the impact of the proposed use or development of such property.”

One BOCC member responded to this advice with words to the effect that although he couldn’t require a restrictive covenant on other Skico properties along Richmond Ridge, if the company were to offer one he might view the application more favorably.

Whether this sleight of hand would pass judicial muster is one imagines only an academic question. But now that Skico has offered the covenant, it will be interesting to see how the board reacts to the offer of that which the board is arguably forbidden by law to command. If Skico does surrender development rights along Richmond Ridge as part of a package that allows Pandora’s to go forward, it will be a more than generous gift to the people of Pitkin County.

Barry Vaughan

El Jebel

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