Affordable housing vs. mansions | AspenTimes.com
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Affordable housing vs. mansions

Dear Editor:The opponents of the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing project continue to spread misrepresentation and falsehoods about the project. Anyone who is interested in the truth about Burlingame should go to http://www.aspenpitkin.com/burlingame to find the actual facts about the project.The opponents to Burlingame incorrectly claim that Burlingame represents “massive growth.” If every planned unit is built at Burlingame there will be a total of 594 bedrooms (I’m assuming that the single-family RO lots will be four-bedroom homes). Using an average of 1.5 people per bedroom, Burlingame will house no more than 891 people. This is not “massive growth,” especially when one considers that construction will be done in stages over the next decade.The opponents inaccurately claim that the “government has consistently refused to follow the Aspen area community plan.” In reality, between November 1996 and February 2005, the city held 81 public meetings or hearings concerning the Burlingame Ranch project.They maintain that Burlingame “will put a great strain” on the Aspen schools. More than 300 students (about one-fourth) of the students in the Aspen School District are from out of district. If Burlingame puts a “great strain” on the schools, the schools can limit out-of-district enrollment.In addition, since Burlingame is going to be built in phases, the schools will have time to react to any increase in enrollment. Following phase I (86 units/11 single-family lots), the City Council will re-evaluate the level of demand, and will schedule phase II and phase III accordingly. Finally, about 20 percent of the units at Burlingame are scheduled to have only one bedroom, and one can assume that these units will have no impact on the schools.The opponents predict that the increased population of Burlingame will lead to a deterioration of the quality of life in Aspen. What an elitist viewpoint. Why is there this orchestrated opposition to affordable housing at Burlingame and not to all the free-market units that have been built in and around Aspen in the past few years?Not building affordable housing on Burlingame squanders the opportunity to take commuters off Highway 82 and ensures that Aspen will become more and more a vacation community and less and less a “real” town (think Vail).Most of the Zoline property is presently zoned for a free-market unit on every two acres. Under that equation 50-60 free-market units could be built on the property, although given the realities of the Pitkin County approval process, we should expect that about half of that number would actually be built.So here’s the bottom line: The Zoline property is going to be developed; it is not going to remain as is. Does the public want affordable housing and a few free-market units on the site or does it want 25-30 mega-sized vacation homes and a few affordable “caretaker” units built on the ranch? That’s the choice that the voters of Aspen are going to make this election day.George BursonAspen


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