Wexners outbid county for trail property, keep it closed

A property along the Crystal River that was coveted by the county open space and trails program, was purchased by the Wexner family after they outbid Pitkin County.

The Wexners paid $5.5 million for the 50-acre property, located upstream from the BRB campground, and had a trail open to public passage along the river from the 1940s until the early 1990s.

The Wexners, who have tangled recently with Pitkin County over a proposed land swap with the Bureau of Land Management, have rejected outreach by the county to restore public access. They want to swap about 600 acres of land in Garfield County for 1,400 acres of BLM land that adjoins their Two Shoes Ranch in Pitkin County.

 Elk Mountain Lodge weighs heavily on cabin proposal in Ashcroft

The Pitkin County commissioners want assurances that a seven-cabin overnight lodging development proposed by Ashcroft Ski Touring won’t become a private enclave for a wealthy family.

The conversion in 2007 of the 17,000-square-foot Elk Mountain Lodge into a vacation home for billionaire Bill Koch weighed heavily in the discussion.

The commissioners are reluctant to amend zoning without a deed restriction or other legal covenant restricting future use. They also want owner John Wilcox to make good on a previous commitment to build five units of employee housing.

More property owners appealing taxes

Thirty-nine county property owners have appealed their latest property tax valuations to the state Board of Assessment Appeals, in what Pitkin County Assessor Tom Isaac says is an increasing trend of tax-dollar gamesmanship.

Appellants range from owners of mobile homes to developers of massive commercial developments such as Base Village’s Viceroy Hotel. Many of the wealthier appellants have adopted a strategy of conceding local proceedings and then appealing to state board, which Isaac says is more inclined to lower values to a compromised amount, in turn encouraging further appeals.

Charges dismissed against county, building inspectors

All civil and criminal charges have been dismissed against Pitkin County and two building inspectors for their alleged role in the deaths of the Denver family who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a home near Aspen three years ago.

U.S. District Judge William Martinez in Denver brought a civil suit by surviving members of the Lofgren family to an end by ruling that they failed to prove that the county, building inspector Brian Pawl and former inspector Erik Peltonen created the danger that led to the deaths of the couple and their two children.

Colorado District Court Judge James Boyd subsequently dismissed criminal against Peltonen and Marlin Brown, owner of a heating and plumbing company that worked on the snowmelt system that is identified as the source of the carbon monoxide leak.

 Crystal Valley Alabaster Mine awaits USFS ruling

An alabaster mine south of Carbondale that has been sitting dormant since 2003 could be back in business soon, depending on pending decision by the U.S. Forest Service about the mine’s impact on bighorn sheep.

The Mystic Eagle Mine has tons of alabaster, a stone prized by sculptors and developers of high end properties who use it for countertops. The new owners want to resume production, but say they won’t if they have to comply with strict seasonal closures from the Forest Service.

However, the Pitkin County commissioners, 11 environmental groups and a nearby neighborhood have expressed opposition to the mine outright, or have said they want activity limited, to protect the sheep.

Kim McKinley

CDPE, Accredited Luxury Home Specialist


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