Aspen City Council OKs residential moratorium extension
Council members say it’s unfortunate timeline can’t be met but work and public engagement important
Aspen City Council on Tuesday initially approved a two-month extension to its moratorium on residential development and expressed disappointment not with staff’s work thus far but missing the mark on the timeline.
The moratorium on new land-use applications seeking development or approval and certain building permits for residential uses that was enacted Dec. 8 and set to expire June 8 will now be continued to Aug. 8, pending final approval during a special meeting scheduled for May 3.
Due to constraints such as the pandemic, staff and community capacity, the complexity of the topics and potential responses, and the contentiousness of the issues, the original timeline does not allow sufficient time for the work to be completed, said Phillip Supino, the city’s community development director.
“The extension, frankly, is necessary to provide us the time needed to deliver on council’s expectations for this process,” he told council Tuesday. “We feel very strongly that we have an obligation to this community to run transparent and inclusive processes, and transparency and inclusivity take time.”
Mayor Torre said a previous description that he was disappointed was not accurate and a better way to express the extension is that it’s unfortunate but possibly necessary.
“I just want to be clear with you that all the work that you guys have done and staff as well has just been absolutely super, and I appreciate the work that you have done,” Torre told Supino and Ben Anderson, the city’s long range planner.
City Council passed the moratorium so new regulations to mitigate growth can be created, as well as ensure that development does not further exacerbate what have been described as emergency conditions in the community.
When it was passed it was the end of the year and when COVID-19 community transmission was high, which slowed down the process of securing the consultants needed to help city staff with the work required.
“Going into late November and early December made it a very awkward time for the contracting, what we needed and for those people to deliver what we needed in terms of outside consulting work,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards said. “So, it doesn’t surprise me that we need a little more time.”
Councilman Skippy Mesirow said he’s disappointed that the city didn’t meet its own timeline but the work is important, so an extension is worth it even if it impacts those in the development community a little longer.
“I recognize this additional time will have a negative impact, it will hurt some members of our community,” he said. “That is deeply unfortunate but what would be less fortunate would be not to deliver the final results that will benefit everyone in our community.”
At the May 3 meeting, staff will present a high-level snapshot of all the community and public engagement the city has done regarding the moratorium, at Councilman Ward Hauenstein’s request.
Councilman John Doyle said his only concern is that the city doesn’t have to extend the moratorium again.
Supino said he’s confident two months is all that’s needed.
“Staff chose this date with the end game in mind and with our capacity in mind,” he said. “We feel like we can get there.”
• Residential building open house: April 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Aspen City Hall.
• Short-term rental questionnaire: Closes April 29 at 5 p.m.
• Residential building pop-up event: April 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Aspen pedestrian mall.
• Residential building questionnaire: Closes on May 2 at 5 p.m.
For more information and project updates, visit AspenCommunityVoice.com.