Aspen’s moratorium date is worth the wait

Thanks are due to the Aspen City Council for deciding this week to end the current moratorium on new development applications by May 31. It would be absurd to extend the restriction beyond that time, since a new council will be seated in June and cannot be expected to finish what today’s council began.However, any such thanks should be tempered with a sense of pure astonishment that the entire affair has lasted this long at all.Granted, redoing the city land-use code is a complicated undertaking that deserves months of work. But when the council declared an “emergency” late last April, most of us expected a real sense of urgency as City Hall worked to stop the scrape-and-replace frenzy and tweak the code to get more desirable redevelopment proposals.Instead, two months had passed before city officials announced a series of public meetings on growth and other topics, and before we knew it the “emergency six-month moratorium” had stretched to 10 months, until Feb. 28.This newspaper supported a temporary halt to the rampant redevelopment of early 2006 because we shared with many others in the community a sense of desperation – that Aspen was threatened and that the city had lost control of the steering wheel. But when you declare a building moratorium in a community that is so dependent on real estate sales and development, when you interrupt the economy and all the jobs and livelihoods that go with it, then you owe it to everyone to act with dispatch.And here we are, nearly a year later, thankful that things won’t drag on for another six months.We urge City Council members to wrap things up as quickly as possible and finish what they started, with appropriate public input. The new council – depending on the results of the May election, there could be as many as three new members – should be allowed to settle into its business with a clean slate.Who knows? Maybe they’ll even resolve the Entrance to Aspen.