An Aspen woman whose family owns property on the backside of Aspen Mountain is suing the Pitkin County commissioners and a neighboring land owner, alleging that officials’ site visit to the area in May violated Colorado’s open-meeting law regarding disclosure.

Larsen Family LP, which is represented by Marcella Larsen, filed the lawsuit Wednesday. It also names as a defendant Kloser Investments LLC, which the filing says owns land that abuts Larsen’s on three sides in the Little Annie Basin area.

Kloser Investments LLC in 2017 applied for county approval to build on its nearly 8 acres a 1,000-square-foot dwelling, along with a small utility shed, a wastewater treatment system and a solar array that could be 16 feet tall, according to the lawsuit.

On May 7, representatives of the applicant picked up three commissioners and “provided the [board of county commissioners] members with private, over-the-snow transportation” to the site, wrote Larsen’s attorney, Andrew Peters of Denver. The lawsuit does not name the officials nor the type of vehicle used. “Aside from unspecific mentions of the site visit at the BOCC meetings on April 11, 2018, and April 25, 2018, which generally lacked information regarding the date, time, meeting location and anticipated topics of discussion at the site visit, the site visit was not publicly noticed.”

Despite Larsen’s inquiries, the county allegedly failed to provide such information, and “no member of the public except those affiliated with Kloser attended the entire site visit,” the lawsuit says.

But not for a lack of effort: The lawsuit says a Larsen representative hiked to the site and observed the visit but could not join the full tour of Little Annie Basin and the parcel in question.

County Attorney John Ely said Thursday he had not yet read the lawsuit and declined comment. Efforts to reach the state-registered agent for Kloser were unsuccessful.

The commissioners on May 8 approved the cabin application by a 4-0 vote, a move that included the three commissioners who made the site visit.

The “lengthy private tour” allowed the Kloser representatives to improperly influence the BOCC without a public record, Peters wrote.

The lawsuit seeks a legal determination overturning the approved development, which will “destroy the rural and remote nature of the backcountry, and will substantially injure the value and privacy of, and views from, the Larsen parcel, which Larsen has enjoyed as a rustic, all-season retreat for decades.”

The filing also says the county approval authorizes access to the Kloser parcel across U.S. Forest Service land and a piece of private property, but without requiring special review related to a special-use permit for a federal road.

Contibuting Editor