Aspen City Council moves forward with limits on residential development

Ordinance limiting demolition permits to six a year, along with other requirements, passes on first reading

Aspen City Council on Tuesday took one step closer to limit the number of residential properties that can be demolished to six a year, and when they are redeveloped the new homes must follow higher building and energy performance standards than what’s currently on the books.

With little discussion, council passed Ordinance 13 on first reading during its regular meeting.

The ordinance has been six months in the making after elected officials passed an emergency moratorium that halted all new residential development until Aug. 8.

The moratorium is in response to an unprecedented amount of growth in recent years, with council members citing massive quality-of-life impacts to traffic, affordable housing, environmental conditions and other issues that are detailed in the Aspen Area Community Plan, which is a guiding document that officials base their decisions on.

The primary policy change is the use of the city’s growth management quota system to limit the number of demolitions and provide criteria for the approval of single-family and duplex residential demolition and redevelopment.

“From staff’s view on the residential building side, on the built environment side, this is the biggest departure of anything we are doing,” said Ben Anderson, the city’s principal planner. “We are using the growth management allotment system to try and give some limits to the pace and scale of development.

“Demolition and redevelopment projects in staff’s view based on (input) from the community, are very impactful in a variety of ways.”

Under the new ordinance, land use applications would be accepted on a first come, first served basis and entered into the queue once determined complete.

Applicants would have to submit a land-use application requesting a demolition and redevelopment allotment. Once determined complete, applications would be queued for administrative approval, according to Anderson.

That queuing will reflect the order of applications as submitted and determined complete.

“You are not in line until your application is complete,” Anderson said. “It is not our intention at this point … to put projects on a waitlist; tracking that, the fairness of that, etc. causes some difficulties.”

Allotments for each year will be available for application starting the first business day following Jan. 1 of each year.

Allotments for 2022 would be available for application on Aug. 8.

Approvals are good for three years, which means that the project would need to submit for demolition and a building permit within that timeframe.

Approvals would be conditioned on redevelopment standards that are included in the ordinance.

Those standards include waste diversion; reporting of carbon usage of the building process and materials for a project, as well as the future energy use of a home; ensuring homes are designed and built for potential future conversion to 100% electric and the accommodation of on-site photo-voltaic and battery storage systems.

Projects also would be subject to a higher expectation in contributing to local water quality through implementation of non-structural best management practices.

Anderson said it should be noted that while the initial set of standards proposed for adoption indicate a significant step forward in requirements for project performance during demolition and in the new building, the amendment process is intentionally designed to be able to respond to new best practices and community expectations that may emerge over time.

The new ordinance also addresses affordable housing mitigation for residential development and increases the fee-in-lieu amount developers must pay.

Another change is the inclusion of sub-grade areas, garages and vertical circulation in what building area counts toward mitigation, and the removal of the exemption for existing floor area in redevelopment scenarios.

Those changes are supported by a new residential employee generation study, conducted by consultant RRC and Associates, in an update to work that was last done in 2015.

Council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinance on second reading June 28.



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