City may revisit school housing rules request |

City may revisit school housing rules request

Mayor Rachel Richards will suggest the City Council reconsider a request from the Aspen School District to place special rules on six housing units slated for district employees in the new Moore subdivision.

The council refused that request earlier this month.

Richards said yesterday a letter she received from all five Pitkin County commissioners prodded her to urge the council to revisit the matter (the letter appears on page 9-A).

“I feel pretty strongly about upholding [the existing housing guidelines],” Richards said, “but if we hadn’t proceeded with the annexation of the Moore property this past summer, the decision would’ve been up to the county commissioners.”

And the Board of County Commissioners had approved the school district’s request for special housing rules for the six Moore units that will go to district employees. The housing board, however, recommended the request be denied. The decision ultimately rests with City Council now that the development, adjacent to the schools campus, is within the city’s boundaries.

The six units will be available for school employees, to be awarded as the district sees fit, as early as the end of the month or early next year. However, as it stands now, the school district will not be allowed to place special restrictions on the employees who will live in the units – stipulations tying the unit to their continued employment with the district, among others – as district officials had hoped.

Initially, the school district asked that the council approve four special housing guidelines. However, at a Dec. 6 council meeting, the school district modified its request to include just one special rule, requiring an employee who works for the school district for less than 10 years and who owns and occupies one of the six Moore units to sell the unit within a year of ending employment with the district.

Nevertheless, council members voted 4-1 against allowing the restriction. Councilman Jim Markalunas was the sole dissenter.

“In all my eight years on council, frankly, I can’t remember voting to reconsider an issue, but that’s why the mechanism is there,” Richards said. And while Richards wasn’t willing to say whether she would change her mind on the matter, she said the decision does warrant further examination and discussion.

Councilman Tom McCabe, however, doesn’t appear likely to change his mind and grant the district’s request. At the Dec. 6 meeting, he said: “Ownership should not be tied to a specific job … I endorse the housing board’s opinion on this in all respects.” He echoed those sentiments yesterday.

“We decided not to tie housing to employment,” McCabe said, “and I think the school district’s right of first refusal on the units should keep them in good stead.”

The school district has been guaranteed the first right of refusal to purchase any of the six units, should the initial owners decide to sell.

“The details of what was agreed to ten years ago might change that picture, but from what I know about it, I doubt I’ll reconsider,” McCabe continued. “I would have to have some compelling argument brought forward for me to reconsider.”

Councilmen Tony Hershey and Terry Paulson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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