A NYC couple's extravagant wedding—which includes building a temporary dance floor, chapel and 27,000-square foot tent on a meadow on Aspen Mountain in Colorado—has thoroughly pissed off locals. "What’s happening right now is over-the-top concerning anything that’s ever happened on the Little Annie Basin," said Glenn Horn, who spoke on behalf of the Little Annie Homeowners Association at a county board meeting, according to The Aspen Times.
Alexandra Steel, daughter of former NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Aspen Institute chairman Robert Steel, and James Scott are due to get married in Little Annie Basin today. But in the lead up to the nuptials, locals have been outraged that John Miller, who owns the property and is acting as wedding planner for the couple, is building on a rural/remote zone district, which is "intended to conserve and protect the natural environment and its resources, while allowing for limited recreational uses and limited residential development."
Residents complain that the construction will affect vegetation and ground recovery, and create traffic where there never had been any major roads previously. Mostly, people sound betrayed by Miller, who was able to get around the rural/remote zoning laws by claiming he was doing the event free of charge (because "Once he found out [who the bride's father was], he said he knew the bride and the wedding was free of charges"), thereby bypassing the need for a temporary commercial permit, which he likely wouldn't have received.
"It’s a stab in the back for all of us up there, completely," said Pete Stouffer, who has lived on the Little Annie Basin side of the mountain for the last 25 years. "John knows how we all feel. He’s sold property to a lot of the residents up there. He knows people’s desire to protect that area. We all support the rural and remote designations and work within the limitations of that. For John Miller to throw this into a loophole and flaunt this, he’s stabbed every resident in the back. I’m really disappointed with him."
Cindy Houben, director of the Pitkin County Community Development Department, thinks it could take years to rejuvenate the land after the huge event: "They’re not doing anything illegal, but the intensity of this event is extraordinary. It’s quite the ordeal," she said. "There’s a lot of concern regarding the recovery of the basin after this event. It’s a sub-alpine environment. Recovery in that area could take years."
Miller responded to Houben's criticisms in a letter to the editor, admitting, "The wedding is a larger project than I thought it would be. However, the interruption it is causing is for a very short time." He concluded, "I regret if anyone has been offended or if the event has caused any inconvenience. This event will be over in another 5 or 6 days. Can we just live and let live, sit back and enjoy where we are privileged to live."
Not everyone was ready to live and let live: “It brings to mind the concept of the ugly American," said Commissioner George Newman. "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. It shows you can be an ugly American in our own country."