Boomerang lawsuit frivolous exercise
August 25, 2011
We are disappointed that a few neighbors have elected to burden the Boomerang Affordable Housing Project approved last month with the financial and time consuming drain of a frivolous lawsuit.
These few individuals who are bankrolling this litigation are the same people who participated in the city’s exhaustive review of this employee housing project.
In spring 2010, the city of Aspen created the affordable housing certificate program to encourage private parties to build employee housing within the city. We saw this program as an opportunity to craft a win-win result for the city and the Boomerang property. We submitted our application for the Boomerang Affordable Housing Project to the city last September 2010.
Since then, we have participated in a public process which was made arduous to the extreme because a few nearby neighbors of the project (principally Steve Goldenberg, Dan Verner, John Staton and Dick Carter) organized a group of neighbors to oppose the project. Two of these individuals are part-time residents who do not vote in Aspen. Their complaints were heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission at three public hearings and by the City Council five times. These neighbors contributed many, many hours of public comment during the city’s review of our application.
As a result of these comments and in response to their complaints, we reduced the height of the building from four stories to three, the number of units from 54 to 40, and the floor area of the project by 28 percent. The economic benefits of the project were substantially reduced because of the actions we took to address the concerns of these neighbors.
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We are disappointed and incredulous that these same neighbors now claim the approval process was somehow defective and denied them of due process rights. It is difficult to imagine how their rights to participate in the process could have been anymore enhanced. They participated in every public hearing and gave their opinions and thoughts to each of the officials charged with deciding our application. Those officials approved our application because we modified it to meet the stated concerns of these neighbors and because the Boomerang project will house local employees who have long sought a home in our community.
Our site is the perfect location for affordable housing. It is within walking distance to the city core and is located one half block from public transportation providing ready access to the recreational and cultural amenities for which Aspen is known. Despite the arguments of the neighbors, who are spearheading this lawsuit, the neighborhood is already the site of employee housing. The Boomerang project will be a good addition to the inventory of affordable housing and will fit nicely in this neighborhood.
The neighbors seek to prevent the Boomerang project from becoming a reality by requiring the city of Aspen to expend staff time and taxpayer money to defend the city’s approval of the project. They know that time is money and they wish to delay it as long as possible. Despite the neighbors’ selfish attempt to derail this project by adding unnecessary costs and delay to the city and the project, we remain confident that the rights of the city, and the rights of the employees that will eventually live int his great location, will not be deterred by this frivolous lawsuit.
Steven R. Stunda