Aspen Club proposal out of line
We elect Aspen City Council members to follow the law. They are elected to enforce the existing land use codes throughout the city. Council should make no exceptions for a particular landowner in a neighborhood to change the “use” of a particular land use code, just because it can. Once this happens, it can happen in any neighborhood.
The existing Aspen Club is asking for a timeshare hotel, where no change in “use” has been made for decades from this rural residential (RR) zone. It has been single- and multifamily use, but never a hotel timeshare use.
There has never been a determination or a master plan that says an addition of a timeshare hotel is “needed” in this location. In fact the previous application was going to be denied. There was no substantial change to this neighborhood to justify a change to its zoning.
If it were proven that a timeshare hotel in this neighborhood was needed, then the applicant could say it is a public benefit because we need a timeshare hotel.
Instead, the applicant is saying that we need an Aspen Club, and the only way we can get it is by “inserting” a timeshare hotel in an RR zone and change its “use.” This is just to bail out the developer and to finance a “new use,” not maintain the existing “use” of the Club.
Council’s mission is to protect neighborhoods from spot zoning. Since zoning does not call for a timeshare hotel in the east end of Aspen, it should be denied, because it only benefits the applicant as a specific landowner.
By granting a zoning code change, council is setting a dangerous precedent. If this application is approved, every other developer in Aspen could do the same.
In other words, if a developer in the West End wants a timeshare hotel under an SPA zone, and gives $1 million to affordable housing (and council likes the application), he can get the approval.
City Council members should follow the rules of the Aspen Area Community Plan and our codes first, then find a “need” for the change in circumstances or “use” before they simply change the land use code and leave every neighborhood in Aspen vulnerable and at risk.
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