City to lay down hammer on construction

Carolyn SackariasonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN City Hall plans to get tough with construction workers who don’t comply with new rules aimed at protecting the peace and quiet throughout Aspen.City Hall will add two new positions to its engineering department. The jobs will be dedicated to enforcing the new construction management plan the City Council passed last month.The engineering department is seeking an additional construction mitigation officer. The position will work directly with contractors, residential and commercial customers, and residents in coordinating and managing construction activities within city limits. The position pays between $50,520 and $69,718, and a person is expected to be hired next month.”Right now we are complaint-driven, and we will become observation-driven,” said Trish Coyle, senior project manager in the engineering department.Coyle and other staff members appeared before the City Council on Tuesday to update it on changes to the construction management plan that weren’t included previously. “The new plan is more of a policy,” Coyle said. “We made it more concise and clear, and it asks for specifics from developers.”The changes include requiring contractors to make subcontractors and vendors use equipment that reduces noise. That means using engine exhaust silencers, smaller generators, and automatic backup alarms on trucks that adjust to a maximum of five decibels over the surrounding noise levels, among other measures.The plan also will require contractors to have more specific delivery and staging-area locations, and establish the number of truckloads the project will require, as well as the timing and duration of the work. Construction parking also must be mitigated by 50 percent.Roads will not be closed under any circumstances unless the engineering department grants permission, according to the construction management plan.All projects must present a dust-control plan that address site conditions and includes a 24-hour contact person; procedures to keep city streets free of dirt, dust and debris, as well as wetting via a water truck three times a day under dry conditions. Vehicle speeds cannot exceed 15 mph on construction sites.Contractors also must give monthly updates to City Hall and neighbors within 300 feet on the progress of the job.City Councilman Dwayne Romero suggested that if construction workers miss their intended deadline, they are penalized – in an attempt to motivate them to finish on time.Under the previous regulations, under which some larger projects were approved, the hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The new plan allows work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Work that exceeds 80 decibels must be done between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.Aaron Reed, a construction mitigation officer, said the majority of complaints come from the residential portions of town and relate to noise.Mayor Mick Ireland asked city staff to see what portions of the new plan could apply to all construction projects, regardless of whether their permits were given under the old regulations. He also asked city staff to research what the city can do to make the plan work better, such as providing van service to construction workers to keep them from driving into town.”It’s not to punish people but to minimize those trips into town that we just can’t handle,” he said.