Council hears public outcry | AspenTimes.com

Council hears public outcry

Abigail EagyeAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Aspen homeowners can sleep a little easier. The mayor directed city staff to omit single-family and duplex properties from its discussions on pacing construction in town after three council members agreed it should be a separate discussion.The idea of using a lottery system to pace any kind of development now appears in question, as well.Many members of the public who spoke at Tuesday’s work session reiterated concerns from a previous crowd – namely, that a lottery system could devalue older homes dramatically or even put owners at risk of not being able to sell.Conversation turned toward whether the so-called crisis of construction impacts on the town was really the result of residential redevelopment – and whether pacing it was the solution. Several people noted the small amount of residential redevelopment square footage relative to the larger developments in town.Mayor Helen Klanderud saw merit in the latter argument.”You’re kind of going after the mosquito to get the elephant,” she said.Eighty-year-old John E. Callahan tried to put a face on the people he said felt targeted by the original discussion, calling the lottery a “kiss of death.” Callahan, whose failing hearing made it a struggle for him to listen to the council’s discussion, said he’s lived through the extreme poverty of the Depression, is a war veteran and has worked many years to feel secure in his old age. He and his wife have lived in their Cemetery Lane home since 1967.But the proposed lottery threatened his ability to leave his home to his four children and eight grandchildren. He said he could hardly sleep last night after hearing about the council’s discussions the previous night.”Lotteries scare the hell out of me,” he said.Carole Hershey, 70, had addressed the council Monday, saying she wants to sell her house immediately and retire downvalley to spend time with her grandchildren.”You just, in the last week, made this impossible,” she said Monday.She offered another stern admonition to the council Tuesday but finished on a hopeful note.”I think they will do the right thing, and I hope it’s the right thing in my case,” she said.Klanderud agreed with council members Torre and Jasmine Tygre that single-family and duplex properties should be off the table for the remainder of the moratorium discussions. Callahan, one of the few people to stay until the end of the meeting, was pleased with the council’s final direction.”I’m more optimistic now than I was last night,” he said, adding that the public’s comments were well-received.He wasn’t alone.”I think council did the right thing,” said Jerry Blumberg, who told the council he and his wife, who has health problems, really need the flexibility to sell their home anytime, without restrictions.Klanderud made sure to point out, however, that there is no permanent guarantee. Future councils – or even the current one – could pick up the issue again at any time. But the rest of the council’s moratorium discussions, she said, will not include single-family or duplex residences.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com

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