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Jim Chaffin and Jim Light began their careers in development in the 1960s with the Sea Pines Company for ten years beginning at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. They were also responsible for developing master planned communities in the Southeastern United States and Puerto Rico.  In 1978, they formed Chaffin/Light and have since focused their careers almost entirely on the development and operation of high-quality recreation and resort communities.  Chaffin/Light’s primary focus today is the development of sustainable communities that provide built and social environments that reflect the culture of the surrounding area. 

Jim Chaffin and Jim Light moved to Snowmass Village, Colorado in 1978 and helped Snowmass Village blossom from a burgeoning ski area into a resort community by developing the Snowmass Club and West Village areas. Chaffin/Light also provided the land and resources to support the Snowmass Chapel and Community Center, the Snowmass Conference Center, as well as donated land and buildings to the now world-renowned Anderson Ranch Arts Center. Chaffin/Light also provided Snowmass Village with significant attainable housing opportunities.

In the mid 80’s, Chaffin/Light became involved in Resort Semiahmoo and Callawassie Island, and in 1989, Spring Island.  It was at Spring Island that Jim Chaffin and Jim Light pioneered a conservation-based ethic, where sustainable development practices became a core focus of the entire community.  It was where Chaffin/Light first tested the notion of building a “community within a park, not a park within a community.”  They founded the Spring Island Trust, which has since served as the steward for protected lands, as an educator for community residents, and as a watchdog to ensure environmental integrity.

Since 1978, Chaffin/Light has developed communities that provide amenities that put people in touch with the outdoors and programs that reflect the culture of the surrounding region. 

Throughout these 40 years, the original desire to create communities connected to their surroundings has only grown stronger. Today, we're proud to be internationally-recognized as a leader in sustainable development, which calls for planning low-density communities focused on preserving nature and open spaces.

It's been a satisfying 40 years, but we like to think it's still just the beginning. Today, Chaffin/Light’s focus includes mixed use transit-oriented development to house residents and guests near public transit.

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Jim Chaffin


Prior to the founding of Chaffin/Light in 1978, Jim Chaffin was the Senior Vice President of the Sea Pines Company and was involved in major community developments in Hilton Head Island and Charleston, South Carolina as well as Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and Puerto Rico.


Jim and his wife Betsy spend their summers in Snowmass Village and winters on Spring Island. Jim enjoys hiking and golfing and Betsy is an artist. They have two children, Anna and Chris, and five grandchildren.


Jim Chaffin is a past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) a non-profit research and education institute that is dedicated to responsible land use and supported and directed by its 40,000+ members. Jim Chaffin co-chaired with Charleston Mayor Joe Reilly a statewide collaborative smart growth initiative in South Carolina, seeking to identify and foster patterns of growth that are economically sound, environmentally sensitive and supportive of community livability.

In both South Carolina and Colorado, Jim Chaffin has been an active contributor to community organizations, serving on school, hospital, symphony and community foundation boards. He is past Chairman of the National Real Estate Advisory Board of Trust for Public Land. He is also past Chairman of the Lowcountry Institute, a 501©3 environmental trust in South Carolina whose mission is to provide responsible leadership in the conservation and use of Lowcountry resources by fostering learning opportunities and helping local policymakers, landowners and residents make informed decisions. He is an Honorary Member of the American Society of Landscape Architects and has served on the ASLA Foundation Board. In addition, Jim was the President of the College of Arts and Sciences Foundation at the University of Virginia and served a six-year term on the Board of Managers for the University’s Alumni Association. In the Aspen and Snowmass area, Jim has served on the Boards of the Aspen Community Foundation, Music Associates of Aspen and the Aspen Valley Hospital.

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Jim Light graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1965 a BA with majors in Economics and English. He and received a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1968. After a year as an assistant to pioneer resort/community developers Charles and Joe Fraser, Charles made him the project manager for the planning and execution for Harbour Town at Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head Island, the most ambitious private harbor development ever built on the East Coast.  Jim Light was responsible for the concept, planning and development of the highly successful tennis program and later, off-island new communities in Florida, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Virginia. In 1975, Jim Light was named president of the company which by that time had become a leader in resort development nationwide.

In 1978 Jim Light and his 50/50 partner Jim Chaffin formed their own company and acquired 3,000 acres in Snowmass Village, Colorado, where they developed a mixed-use ski/golf/ tennis resort and residential community. From the mid-1980’s Chaffin/Light pursued additional recreation community development ventures in Colorado, Washington State, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina. From 1997 to 2012 Jim Light was the Managing Partner of the Roaring Fork Club near Aspen, Colorado and from 2013 to 2016 the Co-Managing Partner of the Ironbridge Golf Club in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The Chaffin Light Real Estate Company was founded in 1978 and was merged in 2013 into Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty, the leading brokerage firm in the Aspen to Glenwood Springs area.


Jim Light grew up in Bluefield, West Virginia, a small town where civic activities were important to his parents and family. And thanks to a ninth grade Latin teacher, he won a scholarship to Phillips Exeter Academy which led to the University of North Carolina, where he was a Morehead Scholar. After college he traveled for a year in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia on a Corning Glass Works Traveling Fellowship. In his first year at Harvard Business School, he met his future wife, Dianne, on a blind date. They reconnected two years later in 1969 in a chance meeting when she was visiting Hilton Head, SC.

Jim and Dianne Light currently live in Basalt, Colorado and have two sons and five grandchildren.


Jim Light was a Trustee of the Urban Land Institute for six years and the Chairman of the ULI/Recreation Development Council. Civic and professional associations include his role as President of the Board of the Snowmass Chapel and Community Center, and board member of various cultural and environmental organizations including the Roaring Fork Conservancy in Basalt, Colorado, which he, Jim Chaffin and partners formed in 1996 with the Town of Basalt. Since 2013, Jim Light and his wife Dianne mentored 11 “first generation” students who graduated in 2018 from Basalt High School as a part of the PreCollegiate Program, a non-profit educational organization where he serves on the Advisory Board.