AACP economic study a no-go for Aspen chamber | AspenTimes.com

AACP economic study a no-go for Aspen chamber

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A suggestion that the Aspen Chamber Resort Association take on a $10,000 update to an economic study to help shape the new Aspen Area Community Plan gained little traction with the ACRA board of directors on Tuesday.The City Council has declined to spend money on updating a study that some members of the business community feel fed out-of-date economic data to the process.”One of the questions, of course, is: Where do we go from here?” ACRA board chairman Warren Klug asked the group.Some members voiced support for funding the study from the ACRA coffers, or in conjunction with another partner in the private sector, but in the end, they took no action to do so. Members also called again for a study to ascertain the feasibility of getting moderately priced lodging built in Aspen – a goal of the draft AACP that some say is unrealistic – but nothing definitive resulted from that discussion either, though Mayor Mick Ireland, an ACRA board member, said he supported the lodging study.Ireland expressed doubt that updating economic data compiled in 2007-08 would result in new insights that would steer the community plan in a different direction.”You’re spending $10,000 to tell me the unemployment rate is high, or that housing in Basalt is cheaper than it used to be?” he said.”The plan itself shouldn’t be based on what the economy is doing in a snapshot,” Ireland added.Councilman Torre, who sat in on the discussion, said he’d consider the information provided if the study is updated, but doesn’t believe that step warrants an allocation from the city. He called the drafting of the 2011 AACP “a long, overblown process.”Much of Tuesday’s discussion rehashed debate over whether the AACP should be a regulatory document or an advisory one. The ACRA has advocated an advisory, guiding document; Ireland argued that it contains only a handful of regulatory provisions, most of which exist in the current AACP, adopted in 2000. They call for development of a mass and scale that fits in with the character of the surrounding neighborhood.Dropping those regulatory provisions means opening a window to development applications that propose the maximum height and mass allowed the land-use code, at least until the code is revised, he warned.The community plan is scheduled for continued review by the city and Pitkin County Planning & Zoning commissions through late July. The City Council is eventually expected to ratify the document; at the county level, it is adopted by the P&Z.janet@aspentimes.com

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