Blue Vic proposal squeaks by |

Blue Vic proposal squeaks by

M. John FayheeSpecial to The Aspen Times

After three hours of impassioned debate, the Aspen City Council narrowly approved developer Tim Semrau’s proposed subdivision of what has become known as the “Blue Vic” property.Mayor Helen Klanderud and Councilmen Jack Johnson and J.E. DeVilbiss voted in favor of the resolution. Torre and Rachel Richards, both of whom called the decision the worst of all choices, voted against it.The vote gave Semrau, a former city councilman, the ability to subdivide five city lots at 202 N. Monarch St. into two parcels for residential and commercial uses.It was the third time Semrau had taken the proposal before the council. The council had continued a decision the other times. Seventeen people – all opposed to a new alley in Semrau’s plan – spoke during a public hearing before council’s vote.Phil Hodgson, whose family has owned a house next to the Blue Vic since 1917, has fought hard for the past several months to keep the alley from being opened as an access point to the residential part of Semrau’s plan.Semrau has said he is not opposed to accessing the residential portion of his project from a driveway coming off Bleeker Street, but the city requires the alley. Access to the mixed-use part of his project would come from the alley off Mill Street.Several council members expressed concern that Semrau did not submit a detailed site plan, which he said he would be willing to do. But the city code prevailed, with Johnson saying regulations specifically say that alleys ought to serve as access points whenever possible.Torre argued that codes are imperfect and the will of the people ought to be factored into any decision.Richards stressed several times that the council was on the verge of a losing situation.”The applicant and the adjacent landowner both agree that access can come off Bleeker,” she said. “This decision is the worst we can make.”Klanderud argued that, even with the vote, Semrau’s proposal still has to jump through numerous hoops, including further review by the Historic Review Commission and the council.Semrau told the council he would ultimately like to move the house diagonally toward Bleeker and Monarch, which would open up the possibility of adding another house to the lot, between the Blue Vic and Hodgson’s house.Several community members suggested keeping the alley off Monarch between the Blue Vic and Hodgson’s house as dedicated open space, or even a park. Johnson said that would make for the most expensive open space in, perhaps, the world.

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