A new neighbor for North Star?
PITKIN COUNTY The North Star Nature Preserve east of Aspen could get a new neighbor – a large, single-family spec house – but officials from two local open space boards are skeptical.Doug Throm, an Aspen general contractor and head of Stella Polare LLC, plans to use a transferable development right to build an 8,250-square-foot, single-family spec home. The site has an existing home and is adjacent to the 174-acre North Star Nature Preserve.The 2.5 acres slated for development belonged to Bob Lewis, a local environmentalist who envisioned a biological research center on the site, according to Jesse Boyce, chairman of the Pitkin County Open Space Board and a member of the city’s Open Space Board. Lewis’ children sold the land to Stella Polare LLC.City and county open space officials toured the site Monday; they are worried that the proposed home is too large and too tall at 28 feet, nearly three stories. “My biggest concern is the height,” Boyce said. “I want to keep it low, and I don’t see any reason for huge gabled ceilings.”The city of Aspen Open Space Board voted against the project receiving the transferable development right and additional square footage at a recent meeting. The board also raised concerns about the color of the house, the landscaping and whether household dogs would disturb animals on the adjacent open space.Throm will pay between $300,000 and $350,000 for the TDR. According to Boyce, the TDR program was created to move people out of rural areas and preserve open space. He’s concerned that Throm is landing a TDR right next to important protected land.”The guy’s got one of the most beautiful preserves in his front yard,” Boyce said. ,Throm said he understands that open space officials might not want a “big ugly house looming over the open space,” but added that’s not his plan. He wants to build a house that is sensitive to the site.Throm said he’s made concessions from the start, and that the 28-foot height is 5 feet less than code restrictions, adding that there are “much larger houses in that area.””We want to do a project that’s appropriate to the site,” Throm said. “I’ve gone through the permit process in the county. … I’m not anticipating a lot of resistance,” Throm continued. “We’re trying to put a home there that respects the area.”And Throm said he’s addressed issues of design and landscape with specific preliminary plans and drawings.”We really need to see in the field how it fits in the landscape,” said Dale Will, director of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. “That’s pushing three stories tall looking right out on this open space preserve. That’s why we want to go look at it in the field.”Will said open space officials are willing to work with Throm but need a little more time because they’ve just received Throm’s initial plans.Will said the county feels “very strongly” about protecting the open space, and that it is a shame that a single-family house should be the legacy of Lewis. He said Lewis had wanted to donate the land to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies or another eco-friendly nonprofit. The Stella Polare application is before the land-use hearing officer at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Rio Grande Conference Room in the former Aspen Youth Center.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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