Boomerang parking issue back before Aspen P&Z
ASPEN – The Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday is expected to re-evaluate the off-street parking plan submitted by a developer who wants to build an affordable-housing project at the former Boomerang Lodge site at 500 W. Hopkins Ave.The commission in December forwarded the redevelopment application to the Aspen City Council, recommending approval with certain conditions. But opponents of the project appealed the P&Z decision based on a city staff error surrounding a process technicality related to the parking issue. The appeal was partially successful when in January, council members kicked only the parking component of the redevelopment proposal back to P&Z, generally agreeing that the basis for appeal had enough merit to warrant another look by commissioners.Developer Steve Stunda represents a Virginia-based group that has already scaled down the project from 54 to 46 units and a height of four stories to three. Square-footage has been reduced from 54,000 to 41,500. Parking plans call for 33 underground spaces and 13 on the street, concepts already approved under the PUD for lodge redevelopment approved by the City Council in 2006.The group was driven to transform the project from a lodge redevelopment to an employee-housing facility because the downturn in the economy limited the ability to secure financing. The city’s creation of a tax-credit program for affordable housing also made that type of project more attractive.Opponents, led by Boomerang neighbor Steve Goldenberg, have argued the project does not have enough parking for a neighborhood that is already beset with parking problems. They also have voiced concerns that the project is too massive for the low-density neighborhood.About 30 neighbors have written to P&Z members over the last two weeks to voice criticisms of the project, mainly focusing on the parking debate. Goldenberg wrote on Jan. 31 that between 1.5 and two parking spaces per unit would be an “appropriate and accepted requirement.” The current plan, counting the mix of 33 underground on the property and 13 off-street parking spaces along Fourth Street, accounts for one parking space per unit.Goldenberg also wrote that the Little Ajax affordable-housing complex, which sits across the street from the Boomerang site, has 14 units and 25 off-street parking spaces, “and that works well.” He notes that Phase One of Burlingame Ranch requires two spaces per single-family home and averages 1.6 spaces per unit overall.”The Boomerang should be modeled after the Little Ajax [affordable housing property],” he said. “If the commission recommends even twice the density of Little Ajax, then 28 units, requiring 45-50 off-street parking spaces, would be in keeping with the neighborhood. … Parking would be adequate and all the other issues practically disappear.”Goldenberg also added in his letter other complaints related to the current parking plan, including his contention that the Midland Trail and the pedestrian bikeway on West Hopkins will be adversely affected by the development. “Parking and traffic on Hopkins will diminish the value of those two significant amenities,” he wrote. Attorney Jody Edwards, who represents Goldenberg and filed the appeal based on the process technicality, wrote on Feb. 2 that it is inappropriate for the P&Z to “kick the can down the road” to the City Council when an applicant fails to provide information necessary to properly evaluate impacts and burdens imposed on a neighborhood.Edwards further wrote that the neighborhood already has two developments that lack adequate parking: the Christiana Lodge and the “unbuilt” Jewish Community Center, which uses a temporary facility but has already received approval for redevelopment.”The neighborhood cannot absorb an additional under-parked development,” Edwards said.Though the parking issues surrounding Boomerang redevelopment will be readdressed by P&Z on Tuesday, the City Council will have the ultimate approval or disapproval of the firstname.lastname@example.org
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