Aspen community plan goals include building usage, parking, and viewplanes |

Aspen community plan goals include building usage, parking, and viewplanes

Aspen City Council members switched things up Tuesday evening during a work session on the 2012 Aspen Area Community Plan as it relates to the city’s land-use code.

The council broke formality and spread out to welcome a roundtable discussion where each council member articulated his or her priorities going forward.

Councilman Adam Frisch was one of the first to speak up and point out that “our land-use code and our Aspen Area Community Plan are not adding up.”

Before delving into specific issues, Frisch suggested that the city might need to re-think its approach to implementing policy and perhaps act more boldly.

Do we have the wrong ideas, or do we have the right ones and are not pushing enough, Frisch asked.

It’s one thing if a community leader takes smaller steps for the benefit of its community, but it’s “unacceptable” if it’s because they are afraid, he said.

Councilwoman Ann Mullins responded, “maybe smaller steps aren’t going to work anymore.”

“Sometimes boldness is called for,” said land-use consultant Bob Schultz, who was hired by city staff.

Tactic aside, Frisch said his main focus is the downtown core and nothing residential, to which the rest of the council seemed to agree.

“We should concentrate on what’s going on in the commercial core,” Mullins said, because it garners the most agitated public discussion.

“That’s what we portray Aspen as to the world,” Councilman Bert Myrin said, referring to the downtown core.

Specifically, Frisch proposed looking more closely at building usage downtown.

Mullins said viewplanes are one of the most important things downtown and is supportive of adding more viewplanes.

Mayor Steve Skadron’s primary concerns are parking, height, scale, mass and variances. The mayor said it also is important that the land-use code is clear and unambiguous.

Myrin said parking is one of his biggest priorities. He said it is critical that the city not make any irreversible parking decisions.

Rather than articulating his concerns, Councilman Art Daily asked staff what they view as the city’s main challenges as they relate to Aspen’s community plan and land-use code.

Community Development Director Chris Bendon said he believes the main challengers are design guidelines, parking and building uses. Bendon said there is a fundamental disconnect between the city’s parking approach and its requirement of developers.

He also said Aspen’s building usage is critical, as “the look and feel of a community is comprised of the buildings you have but also what’s inside,” Bendon said.

Going forward, Bendon said engaging the community is key and will result in the best product. He also said the city will likely have to hire issue-specific consultants to best resolve the concerns at hand.

The next public work session on the Aspen Area Community Plan is scheduled for Jan. 26.

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