AACP process nearing an end
September 2, 2011
The process of rewriting the Aspen Area Community Plan is nearing the three-year mark. By all accounts, it’s been a tedious and lengthy undertaking.However, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel: The planning and zoning commissions for the city of Aspen and Pitkin County have nearly completed their work, and soon the City Council will begin its review of the 121-page document. A discussion earlier this week among council members focused on how they plan to tackle their evaluation of the plan and its 10 chapters this fall.The 2011 Community Plan, like its 1993 and 2000 predecessors, is a roadmap designed to guide the city and county over the next decade as it makes decisions on growth, transportation, the environment, affordable housing, historic preservation and other crucial areas. It is supposed to represent the desires of a majority of the community’s residents; officials conducted numerous surveys, high-tech “clicker sessions” and group meetings to garner as much input as possible. The planning commissions, with assistance from local government staff, then set about the work of harnessing those thoughts and putting them into words to create the new document.Reasons abound with regard to why the process has taken so long. Many more people were involved in the current effort compared with the 1993 and 2000 versions. Local business leaders earlier this year raised questions about what they perceived to be a negative tone toward growth and development, and asked for changes. The spring municipal elections and the possibility of new leadership with a new vision for the plan also might have caused a slight slowdown.Rather than joining those who have taken part in the blame game over the delays, as well as the content of the plan, we wish to commend those who have worked diligently and tirelessly in getting the document to the point where it stands today. Jessica Garrow, long-range planner for the city, and Cindy Houben, community development director for Pitkin County, have advised the planning commissions every step of the way and coordinated the community input sessions. The P&Z commissioners (there are too many members to name) also deserve a lot of high praise for what was essentially a thankless task. Credit also should go to city and county residents who provided their honest opinions about the community’s future direction.We are confident that the plan (which is available for public review at http://www.aspenpitkin.com) is as good as it can be. We also hope that the process won’t get bogged down further when the council tweaks the document over the coming months. More public comment will be solicited at future council meetings, and that’s fine; residents should have the right to express their views of the final product.But it’s time to pass the 2011 Community Plan and move on to other matters. To extend the process into the year 2012 would try everybody’s patience. The plan appears to be something with which a majority of residents can live. We’ve made the bed, and it’s time to lie in it.