Aspen City Council may discuss Source Gas franchise at meeting | AspenTimes.com

Aspen City Council may discuss Source Gas franchise at meeting

Staff report
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – A light meeting agenda awaits the City Council Tuesday.

Regular council meetings usually are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month. This week’s meeting was scheduled for Tuesday because City Hall offices were closed Monday for the Columbus Day holiday.

Council members are expected to take up the issue of a franchise agreement with natural-gas provider Source Gas. A public hearing for anyone who wants to comment on the city’s arrangement with the company is set for tonight, although at previous meetings few attendees have commented on the matter.

To go into effect, the franchise agreement with Source Gas must be approved by city voters on Nov. 6.

A memorandum from Finance Director Don Taylor to Mayor Mick Ireland and council members states that most of the conditions of the agreement were “readily agreed to” by the company and the city. However, “compensation for use of the franchise took some negotiation to settle,” the memo adds.

With natural-gas prices low, the city was unwilling to lock in on a franchise fee at a low rate. The issue was worked out, with the city convincing Source Gas to split the franchise fee into a 2 percent rate of the total bill for retail customers and a per-therm rate for transport customers. A therm is the energy equivalent of burning 100 cubic feet (1 Ccf) of natural gas.

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Another issue, according to the memo, had to do with relocation of gas lines whenever city projects require that the lines be moved. Typically, the gas company pays to move the lines as long as the city agrees to meet and discuss the project before it starts.

Source Gas, however, “inserted a provision that if the city does not meet and confer prior to the initiation of a project that the expense shall be borne by the city,” the memo states.

The provision was finally settled with Source Gas agreeing that the city would pay only for costs that are above a less expensive solution the company may have identified.

In other business, the council is expected to decide whether to “call up” three development projects.

Under the “call-up” provision, council members can choose to accept a decision of another review board, such as the city’s Historic Preservation or Planning and Zoning commissions. They also can remand the decision to the review board for reconsideration or continue the discussion while asking for new evidence, analysis or testimony needed to conclude the matter.

No public hearing is set on the three projects. One involves the Hotel Durant expansion and remodel at 122 E. Durant Ave. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved its final design review on Oct. 2.

The project involves increasing the building size by 3,596 square feet. A fourth-story space also is proposed that will include an open-air deck in front of the building.

The building also would rise to 40 feet, 2 feet higher than the limit for the area.

“The allowance will accommodate a flat-roof design over the proposed fourth-floor rooms that better fits the architectural character of the building as well as the character of the surrounding neighborhood,” a memo from a city planning technician to the council says.