A preservation solution | AspenTimes.com

A preservation solution

(This letter was originally addressed to the Aspen City Council.)Dear Editor:The 2000 Aspen Area Community Plan section on Historic Preservation states:The preservation process must be one of reason and balance, predictability, and economic fairness.People should take precedence over buildings and institutions.Historic Preservation is important, but it must not attempt to replace common sense with rigid and restricting regulations.As representatives of the Aspen Citizens Group, we have worked diligently to suggest changes to proposed Ordinance No. 48 to be consistent with the values stated in the Aspen Area Community Plan and responsive to the directives of City Council. While we maintain that Aspens historic preservation program for late-20th-century properties should be based on AACP principles, education, appropriate incentives and voluntary participation, Ordinance No. 48 has the potential to address much of the damage to Aspens historic preservation program, property owners and citizens created by emergency Ordinance 30 but only if each of the following options is selected:As directed by City Council and supported by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), any involuntary historic designation should require approval by a supermajority of HPC. Any denial by HPC should require no further review by City Council.As directed by City Council, any involuntary historic designation should require approval by a super majority of City Council. Given the potentially significant impact of historic designation, this high standard for decision making is appropriate. Based on our discussions with you, we would anticipate that involuntary designations will be rare and considered only in the case of important properties, which have community support for designation. As demonstrated by the Durango historic preservation program, this standard is achievable under Colorado Statutes and the Aspen City Charter, which has the same legal foundation as Durangos charter.Prior to any involuntary historic designation, City Council should make an economic impact determination and confer currently available historic preservation benefits or other compensation to fully mitigate the economic impact of historic designation.The list of 89 late-20th century properties identified by the Historic Preservation staff and subject to Ordinance 48 should be reviewed by others. The City Council should direct HPC to promptly review the list and recommend the removal of properties.The involuntary historic designation determination process is both complex and time consuming for the property owner and will require property owners to incur significant expenses to defend their property rights and value. As previously suggested by City Council and recommended by the Planning & Zoning Commission, a mechanism should be developed to assist property owners with processing costs.City Council should promptly convene a Task Force and process to review Aspens historic preservation program for late 20th century properties and develop community supported objectives, criteria and benefits for their preservation.In addition to the recommended options described above, we have made detailed comments on the proposed ordinance to clarify fair processes and intent. We ask that you review our detailed comments to both the ordinance and staff memo.Thank you for your consideration.Aspen Citizens GroupMike MapleAspen