City rejects school housing request
The Aspen School District’s hopes to control six Moore subdivision housing units that had already been allocated to school employees were dashed Monday night when the City Council voted not to permit special housing regulations for those units.
The Aspen City Council voted 4 to 1 against the proposed special housing regulations during the ordinance’s second reading and public hearing Monday night. Councilman Jim Markalunas was the sole dissenter.
The six units will be available for school employees, to be assigned as the district sees fit, as early as the end of the month or early next year, according to school board member Jon Seigle. However, 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, for instance – as it had hoped.
“With those six units, we desired to see some way that we were guaranteed that the persons who get them would remain with the district to help meet our needs in the future,” Seigle explained. “Now, the employees who we select will get [the units], and there will be no limitation on their ownership of them. The reality is that we may not see these units for twenty or thirty years.
“I understand where [the council is] coming from,” Seigle added. “The only issue for me is that they already made an exception to earmark these units for the school district in the first place.”
Last night, the district modified its request, which previously included four housing policy changes, to just one: Require 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 terminating employment with the district.
“I endorse the housing board’s opinion on this in all respects,” said Councilman Tom McCabe during the council’s deliberations. “Ownership should not be tied to a specific job.”
“I feel the school district has lowered the bar with its request, attempting to reach a compromise, but I have to take housing board and Tom’s position on this,” said Mayor Rachel Richards. “I think it’s still a very good bargain for the school district.
“I think it will work out to be OK,” Richards continued, “and I don’t want to change the rules for a problem that has not yet manifested.”
The school district will maintain the first right of refusal should any of the owners-to-be of six units wish to sell at some point in the future, Councilman Terry Paulson noted.
During the public comment period, no one addressed the matter.
Previously, Pitkin County commissioners had approved the school district’s request to modify housing guidelines on the six Moore units, while the housing board denied the request.
The school district will still be able to purchase two Resident Occupied units in the Moore development, which it will control and rent to its employees, Seigle said.
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