Aspen City Council downs residential ban in two zones |

Aspen City Council downs residential ban in two zones

A proposal to ban the development of free-market residential in two of Aspen’s commercial zones was rejected by the City Council on Monday.

The council, in a 4-1 decision, denied a resolution that was rolled out by the Community Development Department in an effort to match the city’s land-use code with the Aspen Area Community Plan, which is a summarization of residents’ vision for small-town character that includes building sizes, housing the local workforce, density and transportation, among other components. The land-use code is legally binding, but the community plan is not.

Aligning the two documents is the driving goal of the emergency moratorium the council passed in March. The moratorium immediately placed a freeze on development in Aspen’s commercial zone districts. The ban is scheduled to expire Feb. 28, 2017.

Members of council were receptive to prohibiting the development of free-market residential in the city’s service-commercial-industrial and neighborhood-commercial districts. By doing so, the moratorium also could have been lifted for those two zones.

But they weren’t on board with the timing of the resolution, especially when it hasn’t been run past the paid consultants who are aiding the city with its amendments to the land-use code.

“While I’ll probably in the end support banning or restricting free market in the (service-commercial-industrial) and (neighborhood-commercial), … it’s a step that has to be part of a bigger plan,” said Councilwoman Ann Mullins.

Council members also said they would like to hear more from the public. An online feedback survey taken by the city garnered just 44 responses, a number not telling enough about the community’s mood, Mullins said.

“With 44 responses, it just doesn’t justify putting together a resolution,” Mullins said. “It’s premature.”

Councilman Adam Frisch cast the lone vote in support of the resolution. He argued that while this isn’t a major component of the moratorium, it is one step of many. The city has yet to approve any amendments to the land-use code since the moratorium was passed.

“At some point, something has to go first,” Frisch said.

Councilman Bert Myrin said the council needs to be more thorough and conduct more public outreach. He also noted there could be unintended consequences because both of Aspen’s supermarkets are located in the zones under consideration.

“There’s just a lot more analysis that needs to go into this,” he said, adding that he probably would support the ban on free-market residential, “but now is not the time.”

City Council banned the development of free-market residential in 2012 in the downtown core. Community Development Director Jessica Garrow said that freeze, in part, has the potential to spark more free-market residential development in the neighborhood-commercial and service-commercial-industrial zones.

The city has a number of public-outreach meetings scheduled this summer, including pop-up workshops around town, City Council work sessions and information booths at the Aspen Saturday Market.

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