City revisits dog ban at Burlingame |

City revisits dog ban at Burlingame

Charles Agar

Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” To dog or not to dog ” that is the question at Burlingame Ranch, the city’s new affordable housing project.

The Aspen City Council is scheduled to take up the issue at its Feb. 6 work session, and right now, the prospects look good.

The Aspen/ Pitkin County Housing Authority wants Burlingame residents to decide the issue. And the owner of the adjacent Double Bar X Ranch is willing to talk about the current dog ban. The ranch owners are key to the debate because protecting livestock is a large part of the reason for the ban.

City open space officials said dogs will be bad for wildlife and adjacent open space.

The rule prohibiting dogs at Burlingame sprang from the annexation agreement between the city and the Zoline family, which owned the neighboring Bar X Ranch and did not want dogs chasing the stock. But the Zolines since have sold the ranch to Greg Hills, an Aspen developer with no designs on ranching. Hills, who renamed it the Double Bar X, has said he is willing to talk about dogs at Burlingame.

The housing board said it has no objections to pets ” including dogs ” at Burlingame after revisiting a handful of 4- and 5-year-old wildlife studies in a meeting Wednesday. The board will present its position to City Council on Feb. 6.

“A number of people have serious environmental concerns about that area,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

Klanderud said the work session would be a chance for dog lovers and defenders of open space to voice their concerns and for further discussion of the issue.

The mayor warned, however, that the public already voted on the pre-annexation proposal for Burlingame and that eroding campaign promises do not inspire public trust. Any change to the Burlingame dog policy would start with amending the annexation agreement between the city and Hills.

“We have made overtures to the city as well as the housing office, and we’re interested in discussing the issue,” Hills said.

Hills has veto power but said he is willing to discuss the matter on good faith. He said nothing could change the initial agreement without a public hearing.

“Dogs are the critical issue,” said Housing Director Tom McCabe. Burlingame has lost a number of applicants who won’t even consider moving without their canines.

“Dogs are love buckets. You got a dog, you got someone who loves you,” McCabe joked.

At Wednesday’s meeting, housing board members made it clear that they want the decision to go to the homeowners association, if such a group existed. But there is not a sufficient quorum to field a homeowners association as just 30 of Burlingame’s 200 planned units have sold. The city makes all decisions that will eventually belong to the homeowners association, until the development is two-thirds full.

The city open space board does not support dogs at Burlingame. Brian Flynn, city open space and special projects manager, said Burlingame Village is surrounded by important open space, including Deer Hill and Red Butte, as well as other county-owned parcels.

“I was just out there today, and there were signs of deer already,” Flynn said.

Flynn, who is not a wildlife biologist, worries about the owners who can’t manage their dogs and aren’t willing to pick up after them, as well as dogs chasing wildlife. “We all live in this town, and we know that dogs can have an impact on wildlife, vegetation and recreation,” he said.

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