City blows dust off Burlingame |

City blows dust off Burlingame

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The task force that came up with a broad plan for a 225-unit affordable housing project at Burlingame Ranch is being reconvened to update its work.

And the City Council is finally ready to blow the dust off the half-inch-thick report the group handed them more than a year ago.

The city-appointed COWOP task force for the Burlingame housing project forwarded its recommendations to the council in June 2001 with the expectation the city would conduct a design competition that would turn the COWOP?s ideas into an actual design.

Instead, the council decided it needed to analyze its financial ability to move forward with the project and ultimately hired a consultant to produce a housing master plan.

Now, the council is ready to hear a formal presentation on the COWOP?s report ? a step some city staffers didn?t realize had never taken place. Council members agreed this week to add the informational item to their agenda on Monday night.

Since the task force issued its recommendations, the parameters of the Burlingame project have changed. An amended deal with the Zoline family, which owns the ranch next door, allows the city to build up to 330 units instead of the original 225 homes.

The council should take a look at the task force?s report before directing the group to tackle the expanded project, advised Ed Sadler, assistant city manager.

?There?s no sense sending them down the road for 105 more units if you don?t even like what they?ve done so far,? he said.

?I?m personally not convinced you can take the work that has been done to date and then say, now find a place to put the other 105 units,? said Julie Ann Woods, the city?s head planner and the chairwoman of the Burlingame COWOP.

Councilman Tim Semrau disagreed.

The additional units can only go in one of two spots ? on adjacent land owned by the Aspen Valley Land Trust or in the back bowl of Deer Hill on the city?s Burlingame property.

The city is engaged in talks with the AVLT to acquire its parcel; if the negotiations fall through, a majority of council members appear willing to use the back bowl instead, though they are limited to 80 units there.

The additional units could be part of a later phase of development. By then, the city will presumably know where they?re going to go, Semrau reasoned.

In designing the infrastructure for the development, however, the city would need to retain enough flexibility to use either site, Sadler said.

?You don?t want to run utilities to the bowl if you don?t use it,? he said.

The Burlingame COWOP task force, assembled in September 2000, spent about eight months formulating its recommendations. Rather than producing actual designs for the housing project, the group established guidelines.

Its report addressed what the group wanted to see ? narrow streets with on-street parking, sidewalks, pedestrian and recreational trails, native landscaping, open space, a bus route loop with convenient stops, an emphasis on environmentally friendly construction, functional porches and the like ? without laying out the streets and designing the buildings.

With the assumption that 225 units would be constructed, the group?s recommendations called for a mix of housing types, with at least 60 percent of the development devoted to sale housing as opposed to rental units. More than 50 percent of the units should include two or three bedrooms, with another 25 percent designed as one-bedroom homes to meet the needs of single adults, the report concluded.

At least 60 percent of the development should be townhomes and no more than 30 percent of the project should be devoted to single-family detached housing. Another 10 percent may be small, detached alley or carriage-style houses, according to the task force recommendations.

The city?s intention to build 225 units at Burlingame was outlined in a pre-annexation agreement with the Zolines, which was approved by Aspen voters in August 2000.

The deal allowed Aspen to build the affordable housing on a 25-acre parcel that included about five acres of the city?s Burlingame Ranch and 20 acres of the Zolines? neighboring Bar/X Ranch.

The Zolines gained development rights for their ranch in the agreement, including 12 luxury homes and a cabin along Maroon Creek.

Then, last year, the city renegotiated the deal with the Zolines, giving it the option to build up to 330 units, including up to 80 homes in the back bowl of Deer Hill. That area had been protected by a conservation easement in the original agreement and will be again if the city can reach a deal to acquire about 30 adjacent acres owned by the land trust. The AVLT parcel offers about nine buildable acres.

The Burlingame/Zoline lands, west of town, are bordered by Highway 82, the Maroon Creek Club, the Airport Business Center and Maroon Creek.

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