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City restricts service zoning

Allyn Harvey

Aspen needs repair shops and hardware stores more than it needs architects, the City Council decided last night.

Council members voted to halt the encroachment of professional service into parts of town devoted to the kind of businesses that people use in their daily lives.

After more than an hour of heated debate, the council voted 3-1 to cap the amount of space used by architects in the service/commercial/industrial (SCI) zoning at its current level. Last night’s discussion was only first reading of the proposed ordinance, so a public hearing will be held before the action is finalized.

The sole dissenting vote came from Councilman Jake Vickery, an architect himself, who, along with architect Harry Teague, pleaded with the council to permit more architectural offices and design studios in SCI-zoned areas.

Since the early 1970s, the areas at the base of Mill Street and East Bleeker Street immediately behind the Concept 600 building have been zoned SCI and been home to automobile and equipment repair shops, hardware stores, dry cleaners and similar businesses.

In 1988, the City Council voted to allow artists’ studios in the zone, and a few years later Teague convinced the city that architects qualified as artists. His firm has since grown to employ nearly 20 people, he said at last night’s hearing.

Teague didn’t pull any punches while trying to convince the council that he should be allowed to remain and expand. In fact, he told the council that he would probably be forced to move his operations downvalley if he is not accommodated. He also questioned the wisdom of encouraging the kinds of businesses that may threaten the river, which runs by his Mill Street studio.

“We’ve changed that part of the community into the kind of place that is less appropriate for industrial uses that SCI zoning was created for,” he said.

Those arguments were met head on by two equipment repair men who have been forced to relocate from the building next to Teague’s. Vincent Galluccio and Tom McCabe urged the council to change SCI zoning in a way that accommodates the basic services needed to keep the town functioning.

“You can make the town wall-to-wall pretty, from here to Basalt if you want to,” McCabe said, “but is that what you really want?”


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