July 2013

Aspen Board of Realtors August Observer

Aspen Board of Realtors August Observer

ABOR Observer

August 2013


A rundown of the government and business activity over the last month, with particular focus on issues and items that are important to the Real Estate community.


Inside this month’s Observer …

                Aspen— City Council seeks lodge on at Lift 1A

Snowmass Village – Town poised to adopt extensive changes to floor area ratio rules

                Basalt – Town seeks new tax to relocate trailer park residents

                Pitkin County – Transferable Development Rights under scrutiny

                Regional — Eagle County approves 577-unit community at Wolcott


Aspen —

Council asks developer to reconsider lodge for Aspen Street

Aspen City Council asked the owners of 2.4 acres at the base of Aspen Mountain to once again consider building a lodge instead of townhomes.


The property, on Aspen Street just below Lift 1A, has an existing approval for 14 free market townhomes and 17 affordable housing units. The owners considered a large hotel project, but determined it would be too big by community standards to work financially. Two previous efforts to build a hotel at that site have been rejected by City Council.


“If we had known we had to do townhomes, we never would have bought the site,” said David Parker a spokesman for the group of Chicago and Boston investors who specialize in hotel development.


They are currently attempting to amend the townhome approval so that seven of the affordable housing units can be located elsewhere in town. The next meeting on the proposal is set for Aug. 12.


City takes over leasing of space below Brunello Cucinelli’s

The city of Aspen has taken over leasing obligations for the basement site below the Brunello Cucinelli clothing store on Cooper Avenue.

The city’s intervention stems from a legal settlement between the city and developer JS Cooper Street LLC — owned by Andrew Hecht, Nikos Hecht, Ron Garfield and Joshua Saslove — that allowed a 4,527-square-foot condominium on the third and fourth floors in exchange for dedicating the basement to a mid-priced restaurant, bar or brewery.


Under the terms of the deal, rent in the basement can be no more than 75 percent of the free-market rate of a similar space in downtown Aspen, and the cost of the food at the restaurant must be in the bottom third of restaurants in Aspen. 


JS Cooper Street had until May 20 to fill the space. After a six week extension proved no more fruitful in finding a tenant, the city took over the search. A spokesman for JS Cooper Street said that restaurateurs were not able to overcome the low food prices required as part of the rental agreement.


Private affordable housing program records first housing credit sales

The city’s affordable housing credit market, crafted to spur private developers to develop deed- and price-restricted housing, is officially in business.

Approved in 2012, the new rules allow developers to build affordable units, and then make two sales with each unit — one is the unit itself sold to qualified buyers who will reside there, and the other is an affordable housing credit sold to developers who use it to meet their affordable housing mitigation requirements.


Developer Peter Fornell’s eight-unit building on Second Street and Hyman Avenue which is now home to 14 people is the first such development, and nearly all of the credits have been sold to developers. Fornell declined to disclose the exact prices he was able to get for the certificates, but he said the dollar figures were higher than what the city charges for “cash in lieu” fees.


Fornell will complete another project at Fifth and Main this winter, which will give him more units and credits to sell.


City to add staff to address development pressure

Two city departments — Community Development and Engineering — departments are asking to hire employees to help manage development activity in town. The value of construction projects in Aspen, as represented through permits issued by the building department, has grown from $24.8 million in the first six months of 2010 to $88.9 million in the same period this year.


A memo from the department heads points out numerous large projects in the pipeline that require review and inspection services. They do not want to repeat the delayed response to increasing development demands that occurred during the construction boom of 2005 to 2008, which resulted in long waits for application and engineering, damaged relationships with builders and landowners, and low morale on staff.


Community Development is seeking an additional administrative assistant and a plans examiner, while the engineering department needs a development engineer.


Boogie’s Building set for third story

City Council gave final approval to major renovations of the Boogie’s building, including addition of a third story free-market condominium.


Owner Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass will also add 292 square feet of commercial space to accommodate a bar on the second floor patio, adjacent to the restaurant. He also plans to add 51 square feet to the one-bedroom affordable housing unit that currently exists on the second floor.


The new condominium, at 2,307 square feet, exceeds the city code’s 2,000-square-foot limit, requiring Weinglass to purchase a transferable development right to offset the overage.


Boomerang developers seek free market/lodging mix in West End

Owners of the dilapidated Boomerang Lodge at the base of Shadow Mountain are seeking permission to return to their original plan for redeveloping the property with a condominium lodge.


In 2006, the developers received approval for a 47-unit condominium lodge plus five wholly-owned, non-lodge units. In 2011, they asked for and received City Council’s OK to scrap the lodge idea and instead develop a 40-unit affordable housing complex. Now the developers, local Steve Stunda and a group of Baltimore investors, are looking at building a condominium lodge — as originally planned — but say they need more free market units to pull it off.

The original approval for a lodge is vested until 2015, so the developers are exploring an amended plan that allows more units separate from the lodge. Stunda says the additional units are needed to underwrite development of a lodge.


“It wouldn’t be called the Boomerang if it wasn’t coming back,” said Community Development Director Chris Bendon.


City Council may cut fees on lodge development, leave other regulations intact

Aspen City Council appears ready to cut building permit fees and relax affordable housing requirements for lodge owners and condominium associations that want to update their properties. But they aren’t ready to grant exemptions to mass and height regulations, except perhaps with a few exceptions.


The community development department has come up with a menu of options, ranging from minor tweaks to the current land-use approval system to radical departures from often arduous rules.


Council considered then rejected a proposal to combine the advisory board review process — so that Historical Preservation and Planning and Zoning requirements could be addressed at the same time, for instance. Nor were council members comfortable placing a time limit on the overall review process for an application.


Council continues health, human service funding

Aspen will maintain current level — $380,210 — of funding for health and human services through 2014, despite some misgivings on council and with city staff over the effect of sizeable annual payments on the city’s long-term financial health.  Officials from Aspen, Pitkin County, Snowmass Village and Basalt are expected to begin discussions later this year on a long-term funding solution that does not rely so heavily on Aspen’s contribution.


City sues condo owners, developer over access

The city is seeking an injunction to force developer JW Ventures and condo owners Michael Sedoy and Natalia Shvachko to share the main entrance to the Ute City Building with people with disabilities and affordable housing tenants.


Sedoy and Shvachko, who say they bought their units at 308. E. Hopkins with the understanding that the main entrance and the building’s elevator was for their exclusive use.


Currently, people seeking access to the affordable housing units are required to use an entrance off the alley.  And there are currently no options for people who require an elevator to reach Syzygy restaurant in the basement, a violation of city and federal laws.


Tests from geothermal well indicate energy uses possible

Initial readings on water found in a geothermal test well indicate temperatures of around 90 degrees at the bottom of the 1,500-foot-deep hole, the low end of the range needed for an energy utility.

The test well had water flowing to the surface, indicating water pressure of around 30 pounds per square inch, so the need for pumping systems will be minimal, if the city decides to utilize the water for heat or electricity. Ninety degrees would be about the lowest temperature where a geothermal heating utility might be worth while. To generate electricity, temperatures needs to be closer to 180 degrees.

A consultant will continue testing in the coming months, after the well is allowed to settle. The work will include temperature readings, chemical analysis, and geophysical logging, which determines the geologic layers penetrated in the well.


Little Nell liquor license may be suspended

The Little Nell hotel faces loss of its liquor license after being cited by the Colorado Division of Revenue twice this year for selling alcohol to underage people. Employees at the hotel, owned by the Aspen Skiing Co., were caught serving minors by liquor enforcement agents on Feb. 7 and June 27.

A representative with the state liquor and tobacco enforcement division will present details of the violations at a city’s liquor licensing authority board on Aug. 6, when the hotel applies for a liquor license renewal. The state is also negotiating a suspension of the Little Nell liquor license, which is standard when a second violation occurs within two years.


City looks at splitting homeowner associations at Burlingame

Aspen City Council is looking into the idea of creating three separate homeowner associations at Burlingame. The first would cover townhome owners currently living there, the second would cover the next set of condominiums and townhomes being built, and the third would be for the single family home owners, of which there are only seven.


Such an arrangement may allow dogs in one or two of the areas. It would also realign power in the development, which gives the seven property owners with deed-restricted single-family home lots 51 percent of the voting power on the association board, as currently configured.

Library upgrades under review

Eight months after voters rejected a tax increase to pay for expansion of the Pitkin County Library, a smaller plan, tax-free plan for upgrading the facility is under review. The plan includes a meeting room on Galena Plaza, where the library has a 44-foot easement, a new children’s library and redesigned meeting rooms inside the existing structure. The library has a $6 million capital reserve fund to pay for a scaled-back plan out of pocket.


Romero named to City Council

Dwayne Romero was named to fill the vacant seat on Aspen City Council after Mayor Steve Skadron changed his vote. Skadron said he did not want to leave the decision to a roll of the dice, which is literally what would have happened if nobody budged. Council had been split 2-2 over whom to name to the vacant seat, with Adam Frisch and Art Daily favoring Romero and Ann Mullins and Skadron supporting Howie Mallory.


Eisenstat named to hospital board

Aspen Valley Hospital appointed attorney David Eisenstat to fill the vacant seat on the board of directors until the next election in spring 2014. Eisenstat represented academic medical centers, health care systems, community hospitals and other health care entities for a Washington, D.C. law firm from 1981 through 2007. He has served on Aspen Valley Hospital’s audit committee for the past five years.


Little Nell hires new general manager

Simon Chen has been appointed general manager of The Little Nell Hotel. Chen has since 2011 been the general manager at Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., where he oversaw renovation and repositioning of what is now a widely acclaimed resort. Chen has been in the hospitality business since 1990. He worked at The Little Nell in the mid-1990s as front-office manager and assistant guest-services director.


Limelight Hotel named best in U.S. by Expedia customers

Customers of the online travel service Expedia have rated the Limelight Hotel in Aspen as the No. 1 hotel in the United States and eleventh best hotel in the world. The rating is on Expedia’s  Insiders’ Select 2013 list, which identifies the best 650 properties out of the 150,000 hotels and resorts featured on the site. Properties were ranked with a numerical score derived from 500,000 customer comments. The No. 1 hotel in the world is the One&Only Palmilla Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico.


Retail sales up in May in Aspen

The city of Aspen reported strong economic activity May, with retail sales coming in at $19.36 million, up 7.7 percent over the same month last year. There were gains in nearly every sales category, including accommodations (25.8 percent), restaurants and bars (5.4 percent), construction (5.1 percent), general retail (25.4 percent), specialty retail (16.3 percent), jewelry-gallery-fur (33.6 percent) and automobile sales (48.5 percent). The only losses were sports equipment-clothing (20.6 percent) and clothing (4.6 percent).


Theatre Aspen looks to build endowment following successful capital campaign

Following a successful two-year $2 million capital campaign to pay for a major overhaul of its tent in Rio Grande Park, Theatre Aspen is now planning to expand its education programs and build an endowment. It is hoping to raise $300,000 by end of summer. Meanwhile, the city continues work on trail improvements and new bathrooms at the site.



Snowmass Village —

Town ready to adopt new floor area rules in land use code

Homeowners looking to remodel and builders applying for development applications in Snowmass Village will likely face new regulations on floor area ratio in the near future, as Town Council moves toward a land use code amendment that will expand allowances in some areas and limit them in others.


Under the proposed amendments to the land use code recommended by the Floor Area Ratio Working Group and the Planning and Zoning Board, finished spaces below ground will be exempted up to 1,000 square feet per home. Crawl spaces will also be exempted, as will decks and other outdoor space with limited rooftop coverage, such as entryways.


Town officials agreed that adopting specific floor area ratio (FAR) rules will provide clarity and in the end reduce the costs that many face now in trying to interpret the rules and maximize their living space. The revised rules will also allow owners of existing homes to bring their homes more easily into compliance with town code, which has been an issue in the past, particularly with subgrade space.


Council will continue its review of the proposed amendments at its August 5 meeting.


Popish Valley annexation takes next step

Snowmass Village Town Council gave initial approval to annexation of the parcel of land in the Popish Valley that is the fathering piece for the Wildcat Ranch development. The parcel in question takes up about half the valley. The other half will remain in unincorporated Pitkin County. Wildcat Ranch is part of Snowmass Village. A second and possibly final hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.


Snowmass Village affordable housing cools off after strong 2012

Affordable housing sales in Snowmass Village have cooled off in 2013, after a strong 2012. Seventeen units sold last year, all within 30 days of listing. By comparison, only two units closed by the end of June this year. Town staff also report that renting out the 277 deed-restricted apartments is also taking considerably more effort than in years past. The slowdown is attributed to increased availability of deed-restricted housing in Snowmass Village, and availability of such units elsewhere in the county.


Suiter named interim town manager

Former Snowmass Village town manger Gary Suiter has been hired as interim town manager as the search for a permanent replacement for Russ Forrest continues. Forrest leaves Snowmass Village on Aug. 1 to take a position with Gunnison County.  Suiter was town manager in Snowmass Village from 1990 to 2001.


Snowmass Tourism working to comply with reporting requirements

The Snowmass Marketing, Special Events & Group Sales Board has hired a consultant to assist with a new business plan. The plan is being developed at the insistence of Town Council, which has been pressing the agency to comply with a provision of town code that requires it to develop a spending plan and submit quarterly reports. The plan will lay out goals and objectives, and set measurable goals for Snowmass Tourism, which is supported by a 2.5 percent sales tax in Snowmass Village.


June occupancy up in Snowmass, down in Aspen,

Occupancy in Snowmass Village was up 6 percent in June 2013 compared to June 2012. The average daily room rate rose 5.9 percent — from $121 to $128. Occupancy in Aspen’s lodging properties was down in June, registering at 55.4 percent compared to 61.6 percent last year. However, the average daily room rate in Aspen jumped 11 percent, from $290 last year to $322 this.


New Snowmass Tourism director takes helm

Yan Baczkowski, a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience working for various public and private tourism-development organizations both in the U.S. and Europe, is the new director of Snowmass Tourism. He most recently worked as chief executive officer for Verbier St. Bernard in Switzerland.  Baczkowski replaces Susan Hamley, who stepped down after 10 years.



Pitkin County —

County to scrutinize transferable development right program

Pitkin County Commissioner George Newman has initiated a review of the Transferable Development Rights program after coming out on the losing end of the vote to issue TDRs to protect an ancient tool-making site.


The TDR program was developed in 1994 to discourage development in rural and remote areas by granting property owners transferable credits that can be used to add size to a house and in exchange for forfeiting their development rights. Newman said he hopes to evaluate whether the TDR program has strayed from that original intent over the years.

The commissioners currently have discretion to decide how many TDRs it’s “fair and equitable” to grant a property owner when there are constraints on a property, or if it contains values deemed worth preserving that are not covered in the program.

Newman has been critical of a vote by his colleagues on the board to exchange two TDRs worth about $350,000 for the protection of a property in Emma where an archaic tool-making site was discovered in 2011. He characterized that deal as a “windfall” for the owners of the Emma property, and hopes to examine the way that the board grants TDRs at the September review.

The conversation on Sept. 17 may not go Newman’s way, however. Commissioner Rob Ittner wants to look at the possibility of issuing “fractional TDRs” to compensate landowners according to the exact value of their development rights.

And Commissioner Steve Child wanted to know whether TDRs could be used to compensate landowners for energy efficiency improvements to their homes.  Child also said he’d like to see half-TDRs issued, so landowners who only wanted to expand their homes a little didn’t have to purchase full shares.

County grants TDRs to preserve ancient site

The newly named Sopris Archaic Archaeological Preserve, a five-acre site in Emma, will be protected from development with a conservation easement and management plan under a deal finalized between the county and owners Jody Anthes and David Brown. The couple will receive two transferable development rights to compensate for the loss of the land.


The area in question may be the remains of an ancient village or a seasonal campsite used over thousands of years. Archaeologists are eager to learn more. The site is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It won’t be open to the public initially, but officials expect artifacts will be displayed off-site for educational purposes. Guided public tours are anticipated, eventually.


McBride, county in discussions to preserve ranch

Rancher and developer John McBride has been working with county officials in an effort to protect several thousand acres of land that he owns in the Capitol Creek valley. Four county commissioners and open space and trails director Dale Will recently toured the land last month so they could understand the scope of the deal at hand. “I’m trying to keep it as open space. ... I’d like to see it stay as a ranch,” McBride said.


First half 2013 Real Estate: Dollar volume down, unit sales up

Dollar volume of real estate sales during the first half of 2013 in Pitkin County fell 13 percent compared to the first six months of 2012, but the total number residential closings rose. Foreclosure filings continue to fall throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, down 40 percent in Pitkin County, 41 percent in Eagle County and down 56 percent in Garfield County. The hottest market segment in the valley continues to be homes listed for less than $400,000 in the Basalt and Carbondale.


County facing first major marijuana grow application

Pitkin County will consider its first application for a sizable greenhouse marijuana-growing facility from

Jordan Lewis, who owns a medical marijuana dispensary called Silverpeak Apothecary in Aspen.


Lewis hopes to develop a 4.7-acre lot near Basalt with several greenhouses to supply Lewis’ existing medical marijuana outlet, a future retail outlet and potentially other sellers and producers of marijuana in the valley.  At full build out, the applicant envisions 55,000 to 59,000 square feet of greenhouse grow space.


Though Lewis intends to grow marijuana, the M-word is not mentioned in his application to the county. And Lance Clarke, assistant director of the county’s Community Development Department, said the county is approaching the application like any other agricultural operation. The Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission, serving as an advisory panel to the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners, supported the plan with 5-0 vote.


If Lewis receives the necessary land-use permits, he will still need to pursue a marijuana-growing license through both the county and the state, even though the county has yet to decide whether to impose additional fees and regulations. The County Commissioners will consider the matter Aug. 28.


County struggling with marijuana regulations

Marijuana regulations in Pitkin County appear to be a long way off, despite an Oct. 1 deadline for local jurisdictions to adopt rules on everything from retail licensing and cultivation to manufacturing and testing facilities.


Only Commissioner Steve Child appears fully ready to consider the issue. As a rancher, Child views marijuana as an agricultural commodity that should be regulated and taxed like alcohol. His fellow commissioners appeared uncomfortable with the topic, however.


Commissioners Rachel Richards and Rob Ittner both worried that recreational sales and growth could pose a nuisance to neighbors, mainly because of the smell. IIttner wondered aloud if the county should institute restrictions near schools. The commissioners also grappled with land-use implications of large, enclosed, pot-growing structures.


Pitkin, Eagle counties to consider joint open space purchase

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Director Dale Will has put together an agreement with Eagle County that would share $5.9 million cost of the 137-acre Glassier Ranch near Emma.


One issue that might trip up the purchase, however, is the fact that Glassier ranch lies entirely within Eagle County. But the proposal mirrors previous joint preservation efforts, including 145 acres recently acquired by the two counties with purchase of the Saltonstall property, which borders the Glassier Ranch.


“The diversity of habitat, scenery, cultural, agricultural and recreational opportunities within those 282 acres would be truly unique in the midvalley” with this purchase, Will wrote. It would also include 4.35 cubic feet per second of water rights from the Home Supply Ditch.


The commissioners in both counties will consider the matter this month.


Gas company reports spill in decades-old Thompson Divide site

SourceGas reported a spill at a natural-gas storage complex in the Thompson Divide area, southwest of Glenwood Springs. The spill at the Wolf Creek Field contaminated groundwater flowing at a depth of five- to six feet under the site, according to a report by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).  Wolf Creek was an actively drilled for natural gas in the 1950s and 1960s, and converted to storage in the 1970s.


Meanwhile Ranch auction sale falls through

The auction sale of Meanwhile Ranch, a 56-acre property in Snowmass Canyon, fell through after the high bidder declined to deposit earnest money within 24 hours of the sale. That bidder, who remains unidentified, forfeited a $250,000 deposit required to participate in the auction. Eight people and firms submitted bids.


County initiative will help older residents stay in the valley

More than 70 percent of locals over 60 say they have every intention of remaining in Pitkin County as they age. In response, Pitkin County’s Aging Well Community Planning Initiative will examine everything from healthy activities for the older demographic to in-home services, transportation, and simply staying connected within our mountain communities. Citizen work groups will meet for six months to brainstorm what it takes to age “healthfully” and help develop an action plan to enhance the aging experience in the county.


Wilderness Workshop appeals mine approval on Crystal River

Carbondale-based Wilderness Workshop and the Denver-based Western Mining Action Project appealed a U.S. Forest Service decision to allow alabaster mining at the White Banks Mine at the Crystal near Redstone. They allege the Forest Service misapplied the 1872 Mining Act, which governs mining activity on federal lands.


The lawsuit points out that the USFS has consistently ruled that the mining law does not cover mines that produce “minerals used for simple building stone, landscaping and artwork,” which is exactly what the White Banks Mine would  produce stone building, landscaping and art stone.


Florida company investigated for demarking backcountry with spray paint promotion

The U.S. Forest Service is investigating a Florida company that sells four-wheel-drive accessories after one of its employees spray painted promotional messages on boulders in the Pearl Pass area near Aspen.  The vandalism can be seen in at least seven places near the old Montezuma mine, with lettering that is about a foot high and 6 feet wide. The Forest Service may fine the company for defacing natural resources.


Controversial Woody Creek access remains unresolved

Pitkin County commissioners declined for a second time to act on a development application for a long, highly visible driveway across a steep hillside above Woody Creek Road. The Stranahan-family wants to build the driveway to allow development on a 63-acre parcel on the mesa above the creek.


The commissioners want to see if a compromise can be found, such as access through a neighboring property, or a public-private partnership to protect the property. Neighbors have so far refused to grant access on more suitable ground, but oppose the construction of the new drive. Outright denial is not an option, however, because it would constitute an illegal taking.


FAA reduces hours at Aspen air traffic control tower

The Federal Aviation Administration is closing the Pitkin County Airport air-traffic-control tower two hours earlier in the evening. The new schedule does not affect the airport’s curfew, which continues to be 11 p.m. for arrivals and 10:30 p.m. for departures. Pilots using the airport during off hours will use air-traffic control in Denver.


Airport officials say the shortened schedule has been contemplated for a year now, and is not a result of the federal budget sequester.



Basalt —

Basalt looks to taxpayers for Pan and Fork relocation

Basalt Town Council may ask voters for a tax hike to pay for relocation of residents living in the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park and then prepare the area for conversion to a park.


Town officials estimate $7.43 million is needed to pay for relocation of families and individuals living in 38 trailers, and riverbank mitigation. Of that, the town has $2.08 million set aside, leaving a $5.35 million shortfall.


Town Manager Mike Scanlon expects the solution to include existing parks and open space taxes, and a bond repaid with a new sales or property tax.


Voters to decide mid-valley recreation center

The Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District will ask voters to approve 3.0 mills in new property taxes to build and operate a recreation center in El Jebel.  There are two tax questions for voters to consider, a 0.5 mill levy to fund construction of the facility, and a 2.5 mill levy to fund operations. In dollar terms, the taxes would cost residential property owners $4.98 a month or $59.76 a year per $100,000 of home value.


Bank stabilization, wetland work set for Roaring Fork this fall

The town of Basalt is taking proposals from qualified contractors to make significant river and stream bank improvements for 1,000 feet along the Roaring Fork River below the Midland Avenue bridge. The RFP from the town calls for riverbank stabilization using large boulders and riprap, which is a wall of large stones or concrete chunks along the slope of the bank. It also calls for experience with wetlands construction and enhancement, grading and work on the sewage lines crossing the river.  Work is expected to begin this fall and end next year.



Regional —

Eagle County approves new town between Eagle and Edwards

The Eagle County commissioners approved development of a large, unincorporated community that will cover 373 acres at the rural crossroads known as Wolcott, between Eagle and Edwards.


At build out, the new Wolcott community, which will be located on the south side of I-70, will include 577 new residential units, 144,500 square feet of commercial space,  138 acres of open space, a riverside park and new trail connections. The project is expected to generate 1,600 jobs during peak construction, and create 800 permanent jobs when completed.


Garfield County adopts new land use code

Garfield County commissioners adopted a new land-use code for the county, cutting more than 200 pages from the former code.  


The commissioners say the amended code eliminates redundancies and make it easier for many landowners to develop their properties. For instance, small subdivisions of no more than three lots are now subject to a streamlined administrative review instead of the hearing process that existed under the old code.


The code also makes fracking for natural gas a use-by-right in much of the county, with no review or permitting required.


Appeals court reinstates Silt family’s suit against Antero

The Colorado Court of Appeals has reinstated a Garfield County family’s lawsuit against natural gas developer Antero Resources and subcontractors Calfrac Well Services Corp. and Frontier Drilling LLC. The suit alleges all three firms contaminated the air, water and land near their home Silt Mesa and caused physical injuries and property damage so severe that they were forced to move.


A Denver District Court had ordered the family to produce evidence identifying the specific chemicals that poisoned the environment around their home as a condition of allowing the case to proceed to the discovery phase. Even when they did provide specifics, the lower court judge said it was not enough to allow the plaintiffs to subpoena documents from the three firms as part of the discovery process.


The appeals court determined that the trial court "interfered with the full truth-seeking purpose of discovery."


Randy Udall dies on solo backpacking trip

Carbondale resident and energy expert Randy Udall died of natural causes while hiking in the Wind River mountains in Wyoming. Udall, 61, helped found the nonprofit Community Office for Resource Energy Efficiency, often referred to as CORE, which promotes the use of renewable energy in the Roaring Fork Valley. He is the brother of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.


State to protect stream flows in Garfield County

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is considering a plan to establish minimum in-stream-flow water rights on six streams in Garfield County — Upper East Divide Creek, Beaver Creek, the Dry Fork of Roan Creek, the Left Fork of Carr Creek and the East Fork of Parachute Creek. All six are located in central and western areas of the county.


The action is allowed under a 1973 law that gives the state authority to acquire water rights to “correlate the activities of mankind with some reasonable preservation of the natural environment.”


Parking garage finished in downtown Glenwood Springs

The city of Glenwood Springs completed work on a $4 million, 151-space public parking garage at Ninth Street and Cooper Avenue, one block off Grand Avenue. 

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 29, 2013 in

Aspen Sale July 24, 2013

Aspen Sale July 24, 2013

400 West Hopkins Avenue

Units 3,4 & 8

West End



Four bedrooms/four baths

5,140 sf

Sold price per square foot $856

Asking price $4,695,000

94% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 26, 2013 in

Aspen Sale July 24, 2013

Aspen Sale July 24, 2013

262 Woods Road



Three bedrooms/two baths

1,768 sf

Sold price per square foot $774

Asking price $1,500,000

91% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 26, 2013 in

Aspen Sale July 23, 2013

Aspen Sale July 23, 2013

180 Heather Lane



Five bedrooms/three baths

8,592 sf

Sold price per square foot $977

Asking price $8,750,000

96% of asking price

Photo by Taylor Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 26, 2013 in

A New Perspective - Brooke's Blog

A New Perspective - Brooke's Blog

It's wildflower season! Be sure to get out and explore the many wildflower laden trails around the Roaring Fork Valley. In the past month, I've come across countless species of wildflowers - now I just need to learn which ones they are! I took the photo above of a deer, in the middle of a fireweed meadow, at Maroon Lake in Aspen.

Posted by Brooke on July 26, 2013 in

A New Perspective - Brooke's Blog

A New Perspective - Brooke's Blog

I made it out to the infamous Maroon Bells, and quickly realized why they are the most photographed peaks in North America. I encountered a few deer, a beaver (and his/her dam), many butterflies fluttering amongst the wildflowers, and enchanting views of the Maroon Bells and surrounding mountains.

With the longer days still in full swing, I highly recommend heading up there after 5:00 pm. From 5:00 pm - 9:00 am the road is open to vehicles with a $10 recreation use fee. From 9:00 am to 5:00 pm you must catch the bus to the Maroon Bells at Aspen Highlands.

I look forward to going back to explore the area even more. Next time I'd like to make it to the second lake, Crater Lake, which I've heard is absolutely stunning!

Posted by Brooke on July 26, 2013 in

Old Snowmass Sale July 23, 2013

Old Snowmass Sale July 23, 2013

2520 Lower River Road

Aspen River Valley Ranch Lot 6



Five bedrooms/four baths

5,030 sf

Sold price per square foot $397

Asking price $2,200,000

91% of asking price

Photo by Gary feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 24, 2013 in

Aspen Sale July 16, 2013

Aspen Sale July 16, 2013

775 Cemetery Lane

West Aspen


Four bedrooms/five baths

4,364 sf

Sold price per square foot $870

Asking price $4,250,000

89% of asking price

Photo by Taylor Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 24, 2013 in

A New Perspective - Brooke's Blog

A New Perspective - Brooke's Blog

Originally from Arizona, I lived in Vail, CO for 4 years before moving to Aspen, with my husband, a few months ago. My blog entries will include my weekend excursions and fun-finds in the Roaring Fork Valley. So far, I've been blown away by the beauty, history and great people I've been meeting. I invite you to discover this magnificent valley with me... someone brand new to the Aspen area!

The Regatta at Ruedi Reservoir, 17 miles from Basalt, up the Frying Pan Valley, was a blast to take-in while lounging on a friend's speed boat. I never realized how much work was involved in sailing, and came away with a new found respect for the sport. The sun was shining, the winds were just right and the crews were giving it all they had!

Posted by Brooke on July 19, 2013 in

Aspen Sale July 3, 2013

Aspen Sale July 3, 2013

117 Neale Avenue



One bedroom/one bath

937 sf

Sold price per square foot $1,200

Asking price $1,250,000

90% of asking price

Photo by Gary Feldman

Posted by GaryFeldman on July 16, 2013 in