ASPEN - At the Aspen City Council's first regular meeting of the year Monday, an issue that took much of the council's time last year - three-story building development in the downtown area - will be revisited.
Postponed at the council's last regular meeting on Dec. 10 was a final vote on an ordinance that would ban free-market residential development in the downtown area and also put an end to three-story building projects - unless the top floor had a commercial purpose such as office space or lodging. Council members wanted to give City Attorney Jim True time to study the legal ramifications of an amendment offered by Mayor Mick Ireland that sought to allow three-story developments on only the north side of a street.
After conferring with True and taking into consideration the council's comments a month ago, the city's Community Development Department will return tonight with three options:
• Allowing three-story development in the commercial core and commercial districts but limiting all third stories to 50 percent of a parcel's size and limiting their uses to lodging, commercial and affordable-housing uses. A third-story setback of 35 feet from the property line would be instituted for all developments on south sides of streets.
"Free-market residential development is not allowed under this option," a memorandum from long-range planner Jessica Garrow states.
• Allowing three-story developments in both districts but only on properties on the north side of a street. Any property on the south side of a street would be limited to 28 feet, thereby ensuring that they are no more than two stories. As in the first option, all third stories would be limited to 50 percent of a parcel's size and only for lodging, commercial and affordable-housing uses. No free-market residential development would be allowed.
"While this option is legally defensible, staff remains concerned that simply banning south-side development creates inequity and confusion within the zone district," the memo says.
• Keeping what is basically in place today: All development in both districts would be limited to 28 feet. A change to the existing policy would be the prohibition of any new free-market residential uses.
The Community Development Department is recommending passage of the first option.
Monday's meeting begins at 5 p.m. in the basement of Aspen City Hall at 130 S. Galena St. The three-story-development topic is listed at the end of the meeting agenda and includes a public hearing to allow public comments.