Pandora's

This map shows the proposed expansion into Pandora’s from the perspective of the Silver Queen Gondola. Public comments are being taken by Pitkin County’s community development department in advance of a rezoning public hearing, whose date is forthcoming.

 

In advance of a public hearing on the Pandora’s rezoning application, comments from the community continue to be submitted to Pitkin County Community Development.

As of Friday, there were 11 public comments entered into the record, including three that were not submitted in time for the Feb. 16 Planning & Zoning Commission packet.

At that meeting, the five seated commissioners, Chelsea Clark, Joe Krabacher, Zachary Matthews, Monty Thompson and chair Jeffrey Woodruff voted unanimously to allow a public hearing for applicant Aspen Skiing Co. on a partial or full amendment to the East of Aspen/Independence Pass Master Plan that if passed, would rezone acreage that is currently Rural & Remote and Agriculture Residential to Ski-Recreation.

P&Z’s decision, which could prove critical to SkiCo’s ability to expand into terrain east of Walsh’s run on Aspen Mountain, came despite the recommendation of denial from the county’s community development department that preferred the application be considered in a broader context. Tuesday’s vote was on procedure and not on the contents or merits of the application.

The East Aspen Master Plan which includes Pandora’s, was first adopted by the county in Oct. 2003. Pandora’s development potential has been eyed for at least two decades though the terrain, which includes short steep gladed runs, has been skied for years. Pandora’s appeal includes lee side, high elevation slopes that can load with snow. Core issues from supporters and detractors include the need to update the ski area versus impacts that could result from even limited development in the rural and remote zone.

During review of the Aspen Mountain Master Plan two years ago, Pandora’s was bifurcated from the rest of the application. It received U.S. Forest Service approval in 2019. The county’s review of the plan spanned over two years though it was returned for further P&Z review last year.

Not included in the Planning and Zoning Commission’s Feb. 16 packet were three comments by Courtney Hehre, Jessica Moore and Adam Harkness and Ray Peritz about the proposal that would add 153 acres of in-bounds terrain and a new lift but push the boundary of rural and remote zoning.

They are included in the links at left. All reflect favorable opinions on the rezoning.

Previous to Tuesday’s meeting, Pandora’s engendered eight written comments to the community development department from Tom Barron, John Doyle, David Stapleton, Lawrence Butler, Larsen Family LP, Steve Sewell, Pierre Wille and Victor Gerdin.

Five of those letters opposed the expansion and three were in favor. They may be viewed here: Attachment D - Public Comment.

Suzanne Wolff, assistant director for Pitkin County Community Development, said Monday that the process and timing of a public hearing are still being discussed and a date for the hearing has not been set.

Madeleine Osberger is a contributing editor of the Aspen Daily NewsShe can be reached at madski@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @Madski99