City to hire consultants for land-use code revision
Matching arguably the city of Aspen’s most complex set of guidelines with the community’s vision will require the help of consultants, members of Aspen City Council agreed at a work session Monday.
The decision came as city leaders have concluded that the land-use code, a set of policy standards for property use, should be revised to better reflect the Aspen Area Community Plan, a non-legally binding document that lays out residents’ vision and goals for the city.
As it stands, the land-use code and community plan at times are at odds in Aspen’s development arena. One general example is development being approved that doesn’t reflect the ideals of the community plan.
Council members agreed to long-range planner Jessica Garrow’s suggestion to hire a consultant, at a cost of $50,000 for 250 hours of work, to review possible land-use code revisions.
One of the more pressing issues in the community is the use of downtown space as well as property on the fringe of downtown, leaders agreed.
Garrow told the council that long-term commercial vacancies downtown are a growing concern, while she’s seeing the development of free-market residential units bleed into the city’s mixed-use and neighborhood-commercial zones. Putting quotas on chains also is up for discussion.
Garrow described the concerns as “tough conservations” needed in the community. Council members agreed, allowing for $50,000 to pay an additional consultant to analyze the regulation of property use.
Mayor Steve Skadron questioned the need for a consultant on an issue that is often mulled upon by the City Council and officials. Garrow, however, said it will be a complicated discussion because changes to the land-use code as it pertains to downtown’s zone districts will impact the other zone districts.
“We think this is a critical piece we want to move forward on,” she said.
Councilwoman Ann Mullins also noted regulations to downtown land use are intertwined with commercial-design guidelines, another facet of the land-use code facing scrutiny and a revision.
Other consultants would be hired to study the land-use code’s provisions on commercial design and parking mitigation. Another consultant could be enlisted later regarding the code’s application toward view planes, but a public outreach effort will happen first.
Garrow emphasized the importance of public outreach — through town hall-style meetings, workshops, online surveys, open houses and other gatherings — for the purpose of sparking community buy-in and feedback.
“We really think it’s important for the public to be engaged as much as possible,” she said.
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Pitkin County’s vaccination roll-out continues Friday and Sunday and will include the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.