Burlingame foes return
A $2 million contract to install a road, water and sewer for Aspen’s Burlingame Ranch housing narrowly won City Council approval Monday over the objections of two former county commissioners who predicted the project will face a legal challenge.Attorneys Dwight Shellman and Joe Edwards, both former Pitkin County commissioners, urged the council to delay the major expenditure of public funds at Burlingame until the project is more clearly defined and its ultimate cost to taxpayers has been determined.”I just think you guys are going to make a terrible mistake if you proceed with this now,” Shellman said.He suggested the council take the public subsidy required to build Burlingame to voters before proceeding.A six-page statement, signed by both men, predicted the development deal the city struck with the Zoline family, which owns a ranch that borders Burlingame, will ultimately be the subject of a referendum or a lawsuit.”I hear you,” Mayor Helen Klanderud said.Nonetheless, the council voted 3-2 to award the infrastructure contract – for a sum considerably below the $8 million estimate for the work.Contracts with five development teams that will compete to design and build the affordable housing also won council approval last night.”As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t eleventh hour, it’s twelfth-and-a-half hour,” said Councilman Tim Semrau in response to the latest objections from Shellman and Edwards.The preannexation agreement, which spells out both the Burlingame development and free-market housing on the Zolines’ ranch, is a “done deal,” Semrau said.City voters approved the agreement in August 2000 after a contentious campaign.”I see this as a continuation of that fight and your opposition to the Burlingame affordable housing,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards told Shellman. Shellman was active among Burlingame opponents leading up to that election and predicted the fight wasn’t over after the votes were counted.However, Klanderud refused to let last night’s consideration of the infrastructure contract turn into another full-blown debate over Burlingame. Both she and Councilman Terry Paulson voted against the expenditure, though; they have both opposed the project.”Dwight, I personally agree with you, but that is not where the majority of the council is,” Klanderud said.Shellman and Edwards, residents of Woody Creek and Carbondale, respectively, called on the city to determine the cost in public subsidy to build Burlingame, noting financial analyses have put the sum in the $12 million to $22 million range. There are also indirect costs, like bus service to the development, Shellman said.”I would urge you, as a former public official myself, to take that issue to that level of refinement,” he said.The two men claim the push to move forward with the infrastructure before the project design is even finalized is premature and will eliminate the city’s ability to back out of its deal with the Zolines at relatively little cost. Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com– see Burlingame on page A8– continued from page A1
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