Affordable housing plans still in works for Aspen Mass |

Affordable housing plans still in works for Aspen Mass

Jeremy Heiman

Local officials have decided the planning process for affordable housing on the Aspen Mass property, located across Highway 82 from the Cozy Point Ranch, should continue.

After discussing a presentation by a consulting planner, Pitkin County commissioners and the Aspen City Council Tuesday directed the Housing Authority to go ahead with a design for 120 dwelling units on the property.

The plan will include a site for a new U.S. Forest Service ranger station for the Aspen Ranger District. The Forest Service has agreed to consider relocating to an out-of-town location to free up their present two-city-block site on Seventh Street for affordable housing. The facilities needed by the ranger district – a bunkhouse, seven residences and horse pasture – would be provided.

The planning work promises to be complicated by the need for three retention ponds, required by the Colorado Department of Transportation for runoff water drained from Highway 82. Housing Director Dave Tolen said it would be important to begin joint design efforts with CDOT immediately, to coordinate the design for the ponds with the housing plan.

Commissioner Mick Ireland questioned the appropriateness of planner Mark Johnson’s suggestion of 30 to 50 homes in suburban-style density. Ireland suggested 200 homes for the site in a high-density arrangement. Jim Crowley, representing the Brush Creek Homeowners’ Association, said his group could perhaps give its blessing to as many as 100 or 120 dwellings, and he actually would prefer higher-density housing to a suburban-style setting.

Ireland said he could see 120 units on 12 or 14 acres of the property, with green space left for horses. Councilman Jake Vickery said he didn’t think Aspen Mass is the best site, but he thought 120 might be a good unit count for the parcel.

“I think this 120-unit concept is sort of a middle area that sounds pretty good to me,” he said.

Councilman Terry Paulsen questioned the wisdom of moving the Forest Service headquarters that far out of town, predicting it would create longer auto trips for tourists seeking information. Most tourist excursions, he said, involve the Maroon Bells, Ashcroft, and campgrounds toward Independence Pass.

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