‘Alarmist’ fliers make rounds in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

‘Alarmist’ fliers make rounds in Aspen

Abigail Eagye

ASPEN Following a heated debate Tuesday at a City Council work session, anonymous fliers appeared on the doors of some Aspen homes this week.In bold capital letters, the flier makes the statement:”Notice to single-family homeownersAspen City Council is about to pass an ordinance, which would put a moratorium on building permits for single family homes. This would mean that anyone purchasing your home might have to wait up to two years or more for a building permit. They will be targeting ‘tear-downs’ or ‘scrape and replace.’ If you have any interest in your free-market rights being stolen, please call the mayor at 920-5199 for more info. Or e-mail Jack Johnson at Jackj@ci.aspen.co.us. Or J.E. DeVilbiss. Or Torre.”After seeing the language of the flier, Councilman Jack Johnson called it “alarmist,” saying all the council was doing was having a discussion about whether or not to include residential development in its discussion about regulating the pace of construction in Aspen.Both Johnson and newly appointed Councilwoman Jasmine Tygre, who called the flier’s language “dramatic,” said the council is simply responding to a concern the public raised last year through a number of forums, including the city’s CORE belief meetings during the summer, where pace of construction stood out as one of the community’s major concerns.Although the council exempted single-family homes and duplexes from the current building moratorium, Johnson said so-called scrape and replace residential projects contribute to the construction traffic, noise and dust the community complained about.That doesn’t necessarily mean the council will include residential buildings in any new codes, but Johnson said it’s important to include them in the discussion.”I can’t in good conscience get behind the notion that some topics are off-limits,” he said. “If you can’t talk freely about anything, how can you ever hope to accomplish anything?”Johnson said his feelings at Tuesday’s meeting, where attorney Gideon Kaufman led the charge to stop the council, went far beyond frustration.”I was being told to ignore this, to not discuss it as if the world would collapse on its axis,” he said Friday.He called some of the public’s arguments at Tuesday’s meeting “strong-arm” tactics coming from essentially two people.At Tuesday’s meeting, Councilman Torre was firm in reminding Kaufman that the council had not adopted anything, nor did it have a specific proposal on the table.Council members received a first draft of that proposal Friday.As the draft of the ordinance is written, residential scrape and replace projects are included. But Community Development Director Chris Bendon and planner Jennifer Phelan were clear to note, with emphasis, that “just because it appears in the draft legislation does not mean City Council has made a formal decision to implement a particular policy.””The legislation is … being used to facilitate policy discussion,” a memo attached to the draft states.Tygre said she was “taken aback” by some of the remarks at Tuesday’s meeting and said “it seemed like a Bush administration spin job.”Nonetheless, she said she understands the language in the flier.”Lots of times, people feel that in order to get attention, you have to be sort of dramatic,” she said.Tygre welcomes continued public input and wants to hear comments on all sides of the debate.”I’d really rather wait and hear the discussion, because I can understand the concerns on both sides,” she said.”People are very concerned when there’s a lot of construction in their neighborhood,” she continued. “On the other hand, you want to be able to do something to your own house.”Johnson said the people making the opposing arguments are often the same people, and he, too, wants more information. His frustration with both Tuesday’s meeting and the flier is it seemed people didn’t even want the council to discuss including residential development in pacing strategies.Mayor Helen Klanderud agreed the flier’s language was strong. But like Tygre, she said it’s the sort of tactic one might expect from people who are concerned about their homes, and she can understand why homeowners would feel targeted even if residential development is only one part of a larger discussion.”The rhetoric is less important to me than the ability of City Council to hear concerns,” she said.Kaufman said he hadn’t seen the flier, but he, too, understood the concern.”While it’s true that council said they haven’t adopted anything yet, people get nervous,” he said. “People have a justification for being concerned until they know what it’s going to be.”The council will hear public comment at work sessions on pacing and growth management on Monday and Tuesday.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com