City undaunted by meetings, money for moratorium | AspenTimes.com
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City undaunted by meetings, money for moratorium

Shortly after the city of Aspen implemented a building moratorium in April, council members said they were willing to put in a multitude of extra hours to meet their goals.At a work session Tuesday night, it was clear they’ll have to put their money where their mouths are.City staff is in the process of lining up consultants, and community development director Chris Bendon said it’s too soon to know the exact cost, but he estimates the process could run between $50,000 and $100,000.Bendon outlined a meeting-packed schedule for council during the next four months, but he said he was confident the city won’t have to extend the moratorium past the Oct. 31 deadline.Bendon gave council members some preliminary figures for the type of consultants they asked his staff to line up. He said consultants Alan Richman and Clarion Associates could cost up to $60,000. Pitkin County called upon Richman and Clarion when it overhauled the county’s land-use codes several years ago.Other experts scheduled to give input in the next few months are Front Range consultants Ford Frick and Henry Beer. The city hired Frick and Beer in 2003 to help determine how to revitalize Aspen’s downtown core. Bendon didn’t offer an estimate for their fees, but he said of the whole process, “all together … it adds up.”Councilman Torre wasn’t put off by the figures.”I think it is cheap relative to what we’re getting done,” he said.Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss wasn’t at the meeting, but he said afterward from his home that he wasn’t surprised.”It just costs money to do everything,” he said. “As things go, a city with a budget the size that Aspen has, that just isn’t all that much money.”Although he expects some opposition, he thinks the cause is worthwhile.”I imagine those who don’t like the moratorium will have something to say about it,” he said. But “I’m going to work hard and do my best to see that we accomplish something in the moratorium, and I hope that people can withhold judgment on whether that amount of money is needed until after the end.”The city implemented the building ban April 25, and Tuesday’s work session was the first time council members saw the schedule ahead of them.Several weeks ago, council agreed to hold as many meetings as necessary to accomplish its goals. At the same time, it directed city staff to begin researching and lining up consultants to help address a wide range of issues to help put the pieces of Aspen’s development puzzle together. The expectation is that council will be better able to determine whether the city’s land-use codes are achieving their desired effects.Although some council members had earlier questions about whether they could finish their work without extending the moratorium, some of their attitudes had shifted after seeing Bendon’s schedule.”I think we need to make a commitment to finish this by the 31st of October,” Mayor Helen Klanderud said. “We really need to stick to that schedule.””I feel more encouraged,” Torre said of the work ahead – although he joked that he would have to quit his job to meet the exhausting schedule. “I’m going to go out of town for a long time after this. I’m going to collapse.”Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is abby@aspentimes.com


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