City: Base 2 parking garage would be legally required
October 21, 2015
One of the more persistent questions in the Base2 Lodge debate has been whether developer Mark Hunt will deliver on his stated intention to build an underground parking garage to accompany the project.
And the second question has been whether Hunt would be legally obligated to build the garage.
On Monday, the city of Aspen answered the latter question, saying if voters approve Hunt's 15,000-square-foot, 37-unit lodge in the November election, he would be legally required to build the garage for at least 19 vehicles.
That's according to Chris Bendon, head of the city's Community Development Department.
"We consider his parking obligation to be binding," Bendon said.
Hunt's obligation came in the form of a Sept. 21-dated letter to the Community Development Department. In the letter, Hunt's land-use planner Mitch Haas wrote that "we intend to add on-site parking beneath the Base2 Lodge. This on-site parking will be located below the basement level and will be accessed via a garage door housing a vehicle lift off the alley. We envision a total of not less than 19 parking spaces being provided, 15 of which will satisfy the Base2 requirement."
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Critics of the Base2 proposal have argued Hunt's intention to build a parking garage would not be enforceable because it wasn't part of Hunt's Base2 land-use application the City Council approved in June with a new ordinance. The ordinance now will be decided by Aspen's electorate after a petition drive put it to voters.
Bendon also emailed Mayor Steve Skadron on Monday following a letter from Aspen resident Steve Fallender to members of City Council, City Attorney Jim True, Bendon and Aspen's two daily newspapers.
The letter, which appears in today's Aspen Times' commentary section, asks whether Hunt's intention to build a parking garage is legally binding since it's a "major change" to his land-use application.
Bendon, in his email to Skadron, wrote, "Because this application and ordinance are still pending and subject to the approval of the voters, this letter submitted to the Community Development Department is a binding commitment on the part of the applicant. If approved by the voters, Base2 is required to build at least 19 parking spaces on site. Unless amended by council, the Community Development Department will deny any building-permit application submitted that does not provide underground parking. No further amendment to the ordinance is required to accept this commitment."
Speaking to the Times, Bendon said the parking garage would require a review by the Historic Preservation Commission focusing on the architectural details.
The Base2 Lodge has been touted as an affordable inn with small rooms sized at roughly 150 to 175 square feet. Parking has been a source of contention because Hunt originally said he would find off-site parking for the lodge. But that never materialized, prompting Hunt to pledge underground parking.
If passed by voters, the lodge would be build at 232 E. Main St., currently home of a Conoco service station.