Burlingame petitions in the works | AspenTimes.com

Burlingame petitions in the works

A pair of citizens initiatives challenging Aspen’s planned Burlingame Ranch housing have been submitted to the city clerk’s office.The language of the petitions, submitted by former Pitkin County Commissioners Dwight Shellman and Joe Edwards, is under review, City Clerk Kathryn Koch confirmed Tuesday.The men appeared before the Aspen City Council last month, urging the city to delay awarding a $2 million contract to install the infrastructure for Burlingame. At that time, they predicted the project would face either a legal challenge or a referendum.”I just think you guys are going to make a terrible mistake if you proceed with this now,” Shellman said at the time, suggesting the city postpone the infrastructure work until the project is more clearly defined and its ultimate cost to taxpayers has been determined.The council, however, approved the contract on a 3-2 vote, and work on the road and utilities to serve the affordable housing began this week.”I’m sorry that they didn’t come forward with this before,” Mayor Helen Klanderud said yesterday.One of the initiatives demands that the city spend no money on the project until it has been designed and its cost to the public is refined and disclosed. The petition would also require a public vote, once those elements are known, before the city spends money on construction at Burlingame, Edwards said.The city has already launched a design competition for Burlingame, which could eventually include up to 330 units of deed-restricted housing for qualified local workers.A second initiative, Edwards said, would bar the city from entering into pre-annexation agreements that establish the parameters of a development in advance. A preannexation agreement between the city and the Zoline family, owners of the neighboring ranch, outlines development of both free-market luxury housing on the Zolines’ land and the Burlingame housing. The agreement won approval from city voters in August 2000.”That makes meaningless the land-use process,” Edwards said. The deal “totally does an end-run around public process.”Edwards and Shellman are both attorneys, but they’re not working on behalf of someone else in challenging Burlingame, Edwards said.”We just got to looking at it and decided it was wrong,” he said.Each of the petitions would need the signatures of 736 registered city voters in order to force the council to either comply with the demands of the petition or put the matters on a ballot.If Burlingame is the subject of another election, Councilwoman Rachel Richards predicted it will win voter favor again.She was mayor and a staunch supporter of the housing project when the Burlingame preannexation agreement prevailed at the polls four years ago after a contentious campaign. “I would say, call a few school teachers and ask them if they still need affordable housing,” she said. “Call a few doctors.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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