Aspen chain regulations gain steam |

Aspen chain regulations gain steam

Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times The Louis Vuitton and J. Crew retailers on Mill Street are among the assortment of chain stores in downtown Aspen. City Council is mulling ways to regulate so-called formula retailers that want to have an Aspen presence in the future.

An Aspen movement to regulate chain stores gained more traction Monday.

The City Council, in the first formal action of a multi-step process, unanimously approved a resolution intended to spur an ordinance requiring incoming chains, or so-called formula retailers, to undergo conditional-use reviews before setting up shop here.

The ordinance goes to first reading before the City Council on March 6.

Before then, the city is seeking community feedback on the website http://www.aspen​​ co​, while Jerry Murdock, the chief architect of the chain-store-control movement, said he will host an open house sometime within the next couple of weeks.

The push for regulating formula retail comes at a time when some Aspen residents claim that commercial rents are being driven up by out-of-town concerns that can pay higher rents. These same retailers are sapping downtown of its small-town character, they claim, while mom-and-pop shops cannot afford to do business here.

Skeptics maintain that such an ordinance is born out of nostalgia and a yearning for Aspen in the ’70s and ’80s, and would create unintended consequences by disrupting the free market.

“The critical piece of this and part what gives me the most angst is the social engineering, which doesn’t work,” said Mayor Steve Skadron, adding he feared subjectivity would be the guiding force of such an ordinance.

A predecessor of his from the ’80s, Bill Stirling, retorted: “Social engineering is Aspen’s middle name. It’s been going on since the early ’70s, and the growth-management plan had a tremendous amount of subjectivity when instituted in the city and county.”

The greater focus of regulating chains is to “send a signal out that we want to protect these special things about those special areas in Aspen.”

The ordinance, which is modeled after similar legislation adopted in such towns as Sonoma, California, and Fredericksburg, Texas, defines chain stores as having at least 11 locations and meeting criteria concerning standardized merchandise, services, signs, facades and other elements.

Retailers meeting the criteria would have to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission to seek a conditional-use approval in order to have a presence in Aspen.

The ordinance would not apply to Aspen’s existing chain stores or developments that have been approved. It would apply to seven zone districts — commercial core, commercial, neighborhood commercial, Main Street historic mixed-use, lodge and commercial lodge.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Colorado River connectivity channel gets go-ahead after environmental assessment

Ten years after plans for a diversion route for the Colorado River around Windy Gap Reservoir outside of Granby was finalized, the project is a go. A consortium of state and commercial water entities announced Monday that in late June or early July, construction crews will begin excavating dirt from land adjacent to U.S. Highway 40, to fill in part of the existing reservoir and dredge a new path for the Colorado River to flow around it.

See more