Aspen Club wins council approval
The Aspen Times
The Aspen Club and Spa won unanimous Aspen City Council approval Monday to alter its existing redevelopment plans from 2010.
The original approval allows for construction of a new athletic-club facility, funded in part through the sale of 21 timeshare units. The plan also called for construction of 12 affordable-housing units.
On Monday, the club’s owner, Michael Fox, won a 5-0 council decision to eliminate a 35-space underground parking garage from the proposal and convert the spaces to surface parking. New plans also reduce the number of timeshare units to 20 and add five lodge bedrooms. Fox said the new plan is an improvement on the existing approvals, to which the council agreed.
The existing structure is 30.5 feet, while zoning allows for 28 feet. The new structure will stand at just over 31 feet. The applicant originally won approval to build 110,000 square feet, but Monday’s application requested a downsizing to 107,000 square feet.
The application was unique in the fact that four council members — Mayor Steve Skadron, Councilman Art Daily, Councilman Dwayne Romero and Councilwoman Ann Mullins — recused themselves for various personal matters.
Skadron previously regarded his friendship to Fox as a conflict of interest, which was similar to Romero’s reason for recusal, according to City Attorney Jim True. Mullins’ concern was over her son, who is an employee at the club, as well as her relationship with Fox. Daily cited his own personal reasons.
Citing a rule of necessity, True said the council members were needed to participate, though each of them stated their objectivity before proceeding with the hearing.
“It is a difficult situation, but it is a situation the four council members found themselves in,” True said. “I’ve spoken to all the council members and asked that each acknowledge on the record that they can in fact set aside any personal issues that they may face that would have otherwise caused recusal and that they proceed with consideration of this matter as required by the code in the (Home Rule Charter).”
In a memorandum to the council, planners expressed concerns about the amount of pavement associated with the project. Monday’s approval is an increase in pavement from what is approved, but about 1,000 square feet less than what exists today.
According to Fox, removal of the garage will result in a reduction of more than 6,000 construction truck trips and an overall decrease in construction by about three months.
“I applaud you on getting rid of the underground garage,” Mullins said, noting the environmental impact.
However, Mullins suggested that Fox continue exploring options on permeable pavement. Daily called it a “solid proposal.”
Citing an excess of affordable-housing and parking mitigation, a decrease in trucks trips, a smaller project, increase in lodge rooms, shorter construction time and increased livability for the affordable-housing units, Skadron concluded that further review of the application resulted in a package of new benefits.
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