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City hammering out construction plan

Janet Urquhart
Aspen City Council will discuss how to handle the city's construction boom Tuesday. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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With Aspen’s construction boom likely only to escalate as the building season commences, it’s up to the City Council to decide what, if anything, to do about the disruption that comes with it.Building permits were up 17 percent last year, compared to 2004, and building inspections jumped by 20 percent, notes the city’s Community Development Department. With a host of projects under way and others on the schedule to start this year, the council is set to discuss how the city might choose to manage the building boom at a work session on Tuesday.Chris Bendon, the city’s head planner, has outlined options to regulate construction with everything from a light hand to a heavy one, and expects to return to the council on March 20 for some formal direction. The city staff has already been meeting with contractors on the issue.Bendon’s memo to the council addresses everything from the timing of projects – the potential to force contractors on adjacent projects to coordinate their activities, for example, to regulating truck emissions, controlling dust and altering the city’s existing noise rules with regards to construction.

Also up for discussion Tuesday is extending paid parking from the commercial core into the nearby residential zone, where construction workers and others currently park free and move their vehicles every two hours.”In fact, some projects are rumored to employ a person to just move cars around to avoid tickets,” Bendon notes in his memo.”I think one of the things we’re interested in looking at is, we’ve talked about some of the contractors providing shuttle service for their workers,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.The city has already cracked down on its own construction project – the employee housing going up at Burlingame Ranch, according to Assistant City Manager Ed Sadler, who is overseeing the project for the city.Sadler said he told the contractor to cut the number of vehicles workers are driving to the site or brace for the City Council to clamp down.

“I don’t want to go out and see 50 vehicles every day,” Sadler said. “If we can’t manage our own, how can we expect anyone else to manage theirs?”By Wednesday, Sadler said, there were fewer than 20 vehicles at Burlingame, and some of them are being left on-site instead of driven to and from the project daily.Burlingame, however, is on the outskirts of town, in an area without a lot of immediate neighbors.In Aspen, side-by-side construction projects may pose the most disruption, but also the potential for a coordinated approach and what Klanderud termed “reasonable” efforts to mitigate the impacts.

One construction junction on the city’s radar screen is the Monarch Street neighborhood where redevelopment of the Limelight Lodge, and construction of the new Dancing Bear and ChartHouse lodges could all overlap.”Potentially, they could happen at the same time. That’s a major impact,” Klanderud said.The council’s work session starts at 5 p.m. at City Hall, with the construction discussion slated for 6 p.m.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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