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Pacers owner accused of encroaching on public land near Aspen

May 29, 1997

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) _ Indiana Pacers owner Melvin Simon built a swimming pool and cabana beside his Red Mountain mansion without a permit and encroached on public lands, authorities said.

``(Simon) knew perfectly well what he was doing,″ Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris said Wednesday. ``It’s one thing if they exceed a building envelope. But when they purposely go onto someone else’s land, part of me says, `Too bad, fill it in.‴

Commission chairman Bill Tuite said, ``Our position is that it would be pretty damn hard not to know where your property line is.″

Brooke Peterson, an Aspen attorney who represents the Simons, refused comment.

The Simons’ 11,000 square-foot house has four floors, six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, two half-baths and a full-size basketball court. Simon is co-chairman and founder of the Simon-DeBartolo Group, one of the largest shopping mall development companies in the United States.

The 16-by-35-foot pool, along with a poolside cabana, was built more than two years ago next to the mansion.

Records show that the couple never obtained a county-issued building permit and encroached on property owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

Mike Mottice, area manager for the Bureau of Land Management, said he will not adjust the Simon’s lot line to include the pool and will not sell the property without significant concessions.

The BLM refused to sell a 4.75-acre parcel to the Simons in October 1995, just months before the pool was built, he said.

The BLM’s options include selling the 4.75 acres to the Simons, directing the couple to buy another parcel of land in Colorado and exchange it for the Red Mountain property _ or ordering the structures removed, Mottice said.

BLM officials have not set a timeline for determining what action to take in the matter.

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