Condo complex sues Snowmass over cell antennas

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
A Snowmass Village condominium complex is suing the town over new cell tower infrastructure on an adjacent building, alleging the antennas are disturbing the views of owners and guests.

The Sonnenblick Condominiums, which filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court, contend the Snowmass Village Town Council “exceeded its jurisdiction or abused its discretion” in approving the antennas.

On Dec. 2, Town Council signed off on a request from Sprint to upgrade the antenna system it owns on top of the Westin Snowmass hotel. The company said it needed the upgrade in order to serve its 4G network in the village.

Council, with two members absent, approved the resolution unanimously with less than two minutes of discussion.

The resolution allows the antennas to have a maximum height of 11 feet, 10 inches above the rooftop penthouse and no higher than 18 feet, 10 inches above the Westin’s main rooftop.

The lawsuit, which lists as defendants the town and the council’s five members, says the approval violates a view easement in the air space above the Westin property. The view easement is contained in a 1969 deed to the property, wrote Lance Coté, the Aspen attorney representing the Sonnenblick Condominiums. The Westin site is the former home of the Silvertree Hotel.

There are six condos in the complex, one of which is owned by Snowmass Hospitality, a division of Base Village developer Related Colorado.

The view easement says that the highest point or part of any building on the site can rise no higher than “8,664.68 feet above sea level,” the lawsuit says.

Coté wrote that the antennas exceed that height and also encroach laterally into the Sonnenblick’s view easement. The business submitted its written opposition to the new antennas before Sprint’s request was approved.

“The town is not authorized to approve the installation of the ... antennas within the view easement, and the resolution, in whole or in part, is void ...,” the lawsuit says.

Town attorney John Dresser declined comment Thursday, saying he had not yet seen the complaint.

Sonnenblick wants a judge to order that the resolution be reconsidered and amended so no antennas exist in the view easement, and a legal declaration that Town Council exceeded its authority.