Aspen resident appeals Hotel Aspen approval
July 13, 2014
A Bleeker Street neighbor of Hotel Aspen is appealing the Historic Preservation Commission's decision to approve final design for redevelopment of the Main Street lodge.
The Aspen City Council granted height-limited approval to Michael and Aaron Brown, owners of the hotel, in March after pressure from the public and council members resulted in the downsizing of three free-market residential units included in plans. As approved, the redeveloped hotel, located at 110 W. Main St., would expand from 45 rooms to 54 and also would include three affordable-housing units.
The neighbor, Julianne Steele, of 121 W. Bleeker St., represented by Planning and Zoning Committee member and attorney Bert Myrin, claims that the commission failed to provide due process and exceeded discretion by not reviewing concerns — raised by Councilman Art Daily and members of the public — regarding glazing and distinct designs for each of the three free-market homes.
City Attorney Jim True and staff contend that the commission acted within its rights and recommends that the council uphold the approval. On Monday, the council is asked to determine whether the commission acted appropriately. Whether the council agrees with the commission's decision is not at issue. The council may reverse, affirm or modify the decision being appealed. It also may decide to remand the decision back to the commission for further proceedings.
Myrin's concern is that the commission rubber-stamped approval without regard to public comment, council direction or commission guidelines.
On May 14, Commissioner Nora Berko raised the question of whether glazing was reduced, as directed by the council. Stan Clauson, representing the Browns, said the glazing was in fact reduced, though Myrin disagreed.
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During the meeting, Commissioners Berko, Patrick Sagal and Sallie Golden discussed the issue, a memorandum to the council states, and consequently, "glazing was adequately and thoroughly discussed with the appropriate amount of evidentiary support."
In regard to Daily's recommendation that the three residential units have different designs, Myrin claims in an email that Clauson focused on discrediting Daily because Daily admitted he was not an architect.
During the commission meeting, Chairman Jay Maytin stated, "As far as the three buildings not looking the same, I would agree that they are similar in shape and size. The mullions in the center building glazing is different than the other two, and that helps."
In the memo, True and staff contend that the commission considered Daily's comments, evaluated the project, took evidence, discussed the project and made a decision.
"Staff asserts that HPC acted within their jurisdiction and did not abuse its discretion," the memo states. "Staff believes the Historic Preservation Commission's resolution was approved appropriately and that the HPC did not deny appellant her due process of law, abuse its authority or exceed its jurisdiction."
As a call-up item, the council is expected to address the issue toward the end of Monday's meeting, which also will include a public hearing on the city's lodge-incentive program.