Aspen Skiing Co. snuffs development potential on 54 acres it owns on Richmond Ridge

Restrictive covenant removes opportunity to develop luxury cabins

Pitkin County officials and members of the public tour Pandora’s terrain on Aspen Mountain on Sept. 1, 2021. Skico placed a restrictive covenant on the Pandora’s terrain and 54 nearby acres to remove concerns of development of residences or tourist accommodations.
Aspen Times file photo

Aspen Skiing Co. is making good on a promise not to capitalize on an expansion of ski terrain on Aspen Mountain by developing luxury cabins on adjacent land.

Skico recorded a covenant in February that defines voluntary restrictions on about 54 acres of vacant land on Richmond Ridge on the backside of Aspen Mountain. The restrictions were accepted by the Pitkin County commissioners by a 4-0 vote Wednesday.

Skico’s 54 acres are on land zoned Rural and Remote, where development is already restricted to 1,000 square-foot cabins. Some people, including some county officials, were concerned that when the county commissioners approved Skico’s expansion proposal onto the Pandora’s terrain of Aspen Mountain last fall that Skico was looking at a bigger picture of development. The critics suspected Skico would build and market luxury accommodations in the secluded backcountry.

Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan assured the commissioners back in November that wasn’t the case. He said Skico would surrender its ability to develop cabins on its Rural and Remote lands.

Tom Todd, an Aspen land-use attorney representing Skico, said recording the restrictive covenant codifies that pledge.

“It’s full belt and suspenders of what the ski company represented last fall,” Todd said.

The restrictive covenant also defines development potential on Skico land that was rezoned to allow expansion onto 153 acres in the Pandora’s terrain. Skico can build a ski lift, a shelter for lift personnel and ski patrollers, bathrooms and service utilities.

Banned from the Pandora’s terrain are restaurants and bars, lodging and recreational amenities such as an alpine coaster.

“The way I view this covenant is structural reinforcement of the commitment Aspen Skiing Co. made to you last fall,” Todd said.

“It’s full belt and suspenders of what the ski company represented last fall.” — Tom Todd, attorney

County commissioner Steve Child credited the restrictive covenant for accomplishing what was discussed with Skico officials last fall.

“I think it protects the spirit and intent of the Rural and Remote zone district,” he said.

Commissioner Kelly McNicholas Kury noted she didn’t vote to approve Skico’s rezoning request for the Pandora’s project but she would accept the restrictive covenant because it provides extra protections for Pitkin County.

Commissioners Greg Poschman and Francie Jacober also voted to accept Skico’s offer.

Skico plans to start clearing trees for ski runs and the lift line this summer. The lift will be installed next year prior to the Pandora’s terrain opening for winter 2023-24. Commissioner Patti Clapper recused herself from the vote.

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