Aspen updates its community vision |

Aspen updates its community vision

ASPEN – The first draft of the new Aspen Area Community Plan (AACP) hit the city’s website Thursday with a reinvigorated focus on limiting development, integrating workforce housing with existing infrastructure and an aggressive goal to reduce the city’s carbon footprint below 2004 levels.

The 86-page document, which essentially acts as a non-binding guide for future city departments, has been in the works for the last 20 months as a successor to the original plan, which was adopted in 2000.

It will be in place for at least the next decade.

The plan was developed using feedback from a series of community meetings from October 2008 through February. Officials have scheduled 11 meetings from Oct. 12 to Oct. 22 to receive feedback from the public on the preliminary draft. Three more meetings will be held in November.

Jessica Garrow, a community planner with Aspen’s Community Development Department, said the method of feedback at the November meetings will depend on what happens at the ones in October.

The draft sets the city’s growth limits past the Buttermilk Ski Area and the airport on the west side, and past the Red Mountain area north of town. Those areas are currently unincorporated parts of Pitkin County.

West of Aspen, the plan focuses on existing development ideas and emphasizes Highway 82 as the city’s main thoroughfare. The city has been trying to establish the highway as the main thoroughfare by limiting traffic on Smuggler Street, which motorists commonly use for what is called the “West End Sneak,” or a way around the highway in town to get downvalley.

The plan highlights a desire to limit construction that it says ran rampant during economic booms over the last two decades and diminished the small-town character of Aspen.

The document aims to expand the Growth Management Quota System, which currently governs development in the Aspen area, to include the demolition and replacement of residential buildings, allow sunset periods for certain restrictions on building codes and set a pace for demolishing buildings and replacing them.

It also says decisions on building should be made using hyper-current demographic statistics.

A strengthened philosophy for preserving views west of the Castle Creek corridor, which was a contentious issue during the Aspen Valley Hospital’s expansion campaign, is also emphasized in the AACP.

Addressing publicly owned housing for seasonal employees, the plan proposes that the employers who use that housing are partially responsible for its off-season upkeep. It also asks that any developers provide housing for their employees.

In line with the city’s Canary Initiative, which was implemented in 2005 and requires Aspen to eliminate its carbon footprint to 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2050, the new plan looks to get it 30 percent below 2004 levels by 2020.

It poses a rewrite of building codes to ensure construction is done with the smallest amount of unsustainable resources possible and expand curb-side recycling programs.

Attempting to maintain a healthy stream flow of the Roaring Fork River and tributaries, it asks to broaden the city’s water rights to those streams.

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