Commercial growth allotments won’t be carried over in ’99
Pitkin County has snuffed out a chance for commercial development in the county this year in excess of what its growth controls normally allow.
The county commissioners voted Wednesday to eliminate growth management allotments that were not used in 1996 through 1998 for commercial development. The county’s code requires that growth management quota system allotments either be carried over or eliminated.
Under the growth management quota system, or GMQS, inaugurated in 1976, the county currently limits new development so that 43 or fewer new employees are generated by commercial projects annually in the combined Aspen metro and nonmetro areas. If developers submit plans for commercial development that would generate more than that total, the plans must compete with each other for approval, on the basis of how consistent each project is with the goals of the community.
In 1996, 29 employee generation units, or EGUs were used, all by Aspen Highlands Village, leaving 14 unused. In 1997, no commercial EGUs were used at all. In 1998, 18.05 EGUs were used – 13.05 by the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Sundeck project and five by the H2J Riding School in Woody Creek, leaving 24.95 unused EGUs.
With the leftovers cleared off the county’s plate, this year may bring competition for the annual quota of allotments. Private sector planners Alan Richman and Jamie Knowlton both told the commissioners they have been approached by prospective clients who might bring in applications that would compete with the Skico’s plan for improvements at Buttermilk for the annual allotment.
Richman and Knowlton asked the commissioners to allow the unused allotments from years past to be used, because they said they fear their clients’ applications would not compete favorably with the Skico project for this year’s allotment.
Commissioner Leslie Lamont spoke in favor of eliminating the unallocated allotments and letting the applicants compete for the year’s quota. If more allocations are honestly needed for worthy projects, she said, the code allows them to be borrowed from future years.
Commissioner Shellie Harper, however, argued for allowing the leftovers to be used. “This is very tough because I don’t like changing rules on people,” she said. Harper noted that in the residential category, previous years’ allotments had been used, and as an example, she cited the Highlands Village project.
Head planner Cindy Houben corrected Harper, pointing out Highlands had picked up their GMQS allocations year by year, rather than from previous years.
According to a memorandum from county planner Suzanne Wolff, the Growth Management Policy Plan of 1976 intended to level the county’s commercial growth rate at 3.47 percent. But commercial growth in the 1996-98 period has been calculated at 1.25 percent, below even the 2 percent goal established by the Aspen Area Community Plan in 1993.
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