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Elaborate Aspen-area wedding sparks complaints

By: Associated Press
June 13, 2014 Updated: June 13, 2014 at 6:26 pm
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This June 9, 2014 image, provided by aspenjournalism.org, shows scaffolding being erected in preparation for the planned June 14, 2014 wedding of Alex Steel, daughter of Aspen Institute chairman Robert Steel, at the top of Little Annie Basin, near Aspen, Colo. A wedding so elaborate it has raised eyebrows in tony and environmentally-conscious Aspen has sparked some complaints from residents about the building of a dance floor, 27,000-square foot tent and a temporary chapel on a rural meadow. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Aspen Journalism, Brent Gardner-Smith)

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — A wedding so elaborate it has raised eyebrows in tony and environmentally-conscious Aspen has sparked complaints from residents about the building of a dance floor, 27,000-square foot tent and a temporary chapel on a rural meadow.

The Saturday ceremony will be held on private property in the Little Annie Basin near Aspen Mountain outside town. Neighbors have complained about the traffic and the carbon footprint impact and potential damage to the meadow, now zoned as "rural/remote."

Trucks have been making trip after trip to bring supplies to the site for the wedding of Alex Steel, daughter of Aspen Institute chairman Robert Steel.

The Aspen Times (http://bit.ly/1xOsNby ) reported that scaffolding flooring, service tents and other temporary structures are being built on the meadow. At least one appears to have metal beams.

Robert Steel declined to comment through a spokeswoman at the institute, which sponsors an annual summer ideas conference with world and national leaders.

The property's owner, family friend John Miller, who is also serving as wedding planner, acknowledged in a letter to the editor that the wedding has turned out to be a bigger project than he originally thought it would be. He said it was temporary though and urged his neighbors to show patience toward a family that has contributed much to the community.

"Can we just live and let live, sit back and enjoy where we are privileged to live?" he wrote.

The wedding will be accessed by a county road because there is still too much snow on another access road. Pitkin County officials at first considered requiring a temporary commercial permit for the ceremony, which is adjacent to U.S. Forest Service land. But because guests won't be charged, officials concluded that they could not charge for a permit.

Commissioner George Newman said the event shows you can be an "ugly American" in your own country.

"It's unfortunate people come to our county because of the beauty and bring their values with them while not caring or not understanding our values," he told the Aspen Times.

County commissioners will meet June 17 to discuss zoning and permitting changes to handle future big events in the resort area.

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