Aspen’s preservation regulations recognized |

Aspen’s preservation regulations recognized

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s new historic preservation legislation, adopted in March after a lengthy and, at times, contentious community debate, was honored last week by Colorado Preservation Inc.

The organization gave the city one of a handful of 2002 State Honor Awards, intended to bring statewide attention to outstanding achievement in historic preservation and neighborhood revitalization.

The award is more typically accorded to actual preservation projects, but Aspen was selected for a cutting-edge approach in preservation regulations that accords special benefits to properties that are chosen for the city’s historic designation, according to Dan Corson, a local-government liaison with the Colorado Historical Society in Denver.

Corson works with municipalities on preservation regulations and suggested Aspen’s new preservation ordinances were worthy of nomination, said Amy Guthrie, Aspen’s historic preservation officer.

Guthrie traveled to Denver Thursday to accept the award, along with Julie Ann Woods, director of Aspen’s Community Development Department, and Suzannah Reid, chairwoman of the local Historic Preservation Commission.

“Part of the reason they’re giving us the award is they think it’s a state-of-the-art ordinance that other Colorado communities should take a look at,” Woods said. “We’re taking it as a pat on the back.”

Aspen found its old preservation regulations lacking when the HPC first looked at extending the city’s historic designation to post-World War II buildings. The move riled affected property owners and led to an extensive rewriting of the city’s preservation rules. After more than a year, the city adopted two new ordinances – one establishing new preservation regulations and criteria, and one outlining the benefits to be accorded to historic properties.

In recognizing the impacts of a historic designation and offering development perks and other benefits to owners of designated properties, Aspen has taken a lead role in preservation within Colorado, according to Corson.

“Aspen has what are probably the highest land values in the state, which makes historic preservation more difficult, more controversial,” Corson said. “Aspen is, in some respects, on the cutting edge of historic preservation in terms of recognizing these issues.”

Though the city’s new ordinances did not satisfy everyone in the community, a number of citizens helped shape the legislation through their participation in lectures, tours, forums and countless hearings, Guthrie noted.

“I really do think the award is for everyone – all the citizens who came to umpteen meetings. Everyone was involved in the final product,” she said.

Colorado Preservation Inc. is a privately funded, historic preservation organization. Its mission is saving historic buildings and places around the state.

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