Aspen activist Myrin submits 1,036 signatures on variance issue |

Aspen activist Myrin submits 1,036 signatures on variance issue

Resident Bert Myrin delivered 1,036 petition signatures tied to his variance-control ballot measure on Tuesday to the city, and if 304 signatures can be verified, it will advance to May’s election.

The potential question before Aspen’s voters is whether the Aspen City Council should have the ability to grant developers land-use variances on height, floor area, parking and affordable-housing requirements. Myrin said Tuesday that based on the unofficial signatures, it’s clear that Aspen wants to have the discussion.

“(The petition signers) may vote against us. They may vote for us,” he said of his measure that would strip the council of any discretion over those variance areas. “They think this conversation should take place.”

Myrin crafted language for the Home Rule Charter amendment after recent legislation was adopted in Telluride, where a similar petition drive began over concerns about big development. Last week, the council directed city planners to begin crafting variance-control measures in the land-use code, changes officials could vote on as soon as March. Mayor Steve Skadron called Myrin’s amendment a “one-size-fits-all” fix that will result in monotony, while Councilman Adam Frisch equated it to neutering public officials.

“This will give council the power to say, ‘The community is behind us. They don’t want us off doing variance,’” Myrin said.

Based on past petition drives he’s led, Myrin said he expects about 70 percent of the signatures to come back verified. That would mean about 600 signatures, or about 10 percent of Aspen’s more than 6,000 registered voters. In Aspen’s last municipal election in 2013, 2,980 people voted.

City Clerk Linda Manning is expected to begin verifying signatures today, the petition’s deadline. If she reaches 304 signatures, she will not verify the rest. Any verified signatures can be contested, but even if any signatures are overturned, the city would examine the remaining signatures. The names of the petition signers are now public record.

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