City adds four months to moratorium | AspenTimes.com

City adds four months to moratorium

Abigail Eagye

The Aspen City Council entertained minimal public objection Monday night before extending the current building moratorium to Feb. 28, 2007.Three members of the development community took issue with the portion of the building ban that prohibits the city from issuing permits to projects that have already been approved.”The number of projects that are actually prepared to go forward is very small,” said planning consultant Sunny Vann. Vann wanted to know the rationale for denying those permits, since any amendments to the city’s land-use code would not apply to projects that have already been approved.Community Development Director Chris Bendon said the council is considering implementing some sort of “metering” system to control the pace of construction projects in town.Vann suggested that delaying building permits could interfere with a project’s legally vested rights.Councilman Jack Johnson said the council hasn’t yet discussed how to control the pace of development, so it’s not in a position to make exemptions.”I don’t know how we can exempt anything from something that doesn’t exist yet,” he said.There was some talk of allowing approved projects with affordable housing to move forward, but Mayor Helen Klanderud objected.Pace of construction has been at the top of the list of issues to address during the moratorium, she said, and allowing any exception based on affordable housing contradicts efforts to control pace. “I am not willing to exempt affordable housing,” she said. “I think we have to consider growth is growth is growth.”Although she has always opposed the moratorium, Klanderud agreed that the council needs to address the pace of construction. She was concerned that it has not addressed that issue, even though it was a major impetus for imposing the moratorium.”I’m disappointed because we’ve not done that yet,” she said.Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss supported extending the moratorium, but he wanted to see it lengthened even further.”I think that we can exempt projects from the moratorium. We can terminate the moratorium in the blink of an eye,” he said. But, “we’re going to be facing some pressure if we try to extend it again.”Johnson agreed.”I don’t want to extend it again,” he said. “I want to be done.”Councilwoman Rachel Richards thwarted the effort to extend the extension, however. She moved to adopt the proposed Feb. 28 end date, stating that the earlier date would press the council to move forward.The council approved the extension, 3-2, making no changes to the language of the current moratoriums. Klanderud remained opposed to the moratorium altogether, and DeVilbiss maintained his stance that the extension should be longer.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com