Aspen council, historical board OK project
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council voted 3-1 Monday to accept the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval of a development proposal that calls for demolishing part of a one-story building in the East Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall to make way for a three-story structure.The building, at 422 E. Cooper Ave., is located next door to the historic Red Onion restaurant building. Currently, it houses a poster shop. The project applicant, represented by Stan Clauson Associates Inc., is proposing a mixed-use development with a single residential unit on the second and third floors and commercial uses on the first floor and the basement.The commission voted 4-1 on Oct. 24 to approve the project’s design. Commissioner Nora Berko provided the lone “no” vote, saying that the third story wasn’t necessary and that it would reduce the prominence of the iconic Red Onion building. Others at the meeting voiced concern that the new structure would conflict with the viewplane from the Wheeler Opera House.City Council members used their “call up” provision to consider whether to accept the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision or remand it back to the commission for reconsideration. Following a discussion that focused on Wheeler viewplanes, they voted 3-1 to accept the decision, with Mayor Mick Ireland and Councilmen Adam Frisch and Derek Johnson in favor. Councilman Steve Skadron dissented. Prior to the discussion, Councilman Torre recused himself because his residence is in close proximity to the project location.In other business:• The council voted 5-0 to enter into a $516,000 contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to purchase uncontracted water from Ruedi Reservoir to keep it on the Western Slope and to help pay off remaining debt associated with construction of the dam and reservoir, both of which were built in the 1960s. The Colorado River District is coordinating a purchase agreement that involves 18 entities, including the city of Aspen. Under the contract, the city will be buying 400 acre-feet of Ruedi water to be used for future augmentation purposes, according to a memorandum to the council.• Council members voted 5-0 to amend the city sales tax from 2.1 percent to 2.4 percent. The change reflects the Nov. 6 decision by city voters to raise the sales tax in order to provide more money to the local public school system. Officials noted that the city will merely be collecting the revenue as a “pass-through entity” – a separate, independent board will be created to receive the money and dole it out to the school system based on various budget needs. The increase will raise an estimated $1.75 million annually.• The council agreed 5-0 to a $99,000 contract with consulting firm Fehr & Peers. The company will help the city create a system to ensure that future developments accurately mitigate their transportation impacts. According to a city memorandum, the intent of the project is to clarify requirements, and write them into the municipal code, for mitigating impacts from development. Transportation impacts include increased traffic and trips that result from development. Such impacts affect air quality by increasing pollution due to vehicle emissions and particulates from vehicles on the firstname.lastname@example.org
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