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Consolidation plan is debated

Sarah S. Chung

Housing authority board members are both excited and wary about a proposal to combine some of the responsibilities of the Aspen City Council and city advisory boards.”I think the board’s fairly excited by about it,” said Chairwoman Jackie Kasabach. “We’re definitely interested in promoting more cooperation between various boards in any way we can.”If approved, the new process would be used when the city acts as both applicant and review board for affordable housing projects owned by the city.A joint committee would formulate the project instead of the advisory boards making recommendations after the City Council has already given initial direction to the planning staff.This team would consist of members of the council, the city Planning and Zoning Commission, housing board, Historic Preservation Commission, neighbors of the project and city planning staff.”The idea is for the representatives to report back and keep their various boards updated,” said City Community Development Director Julie Ann Woods.This new process stemmed from criticism by the city P&Z that its concerns were coming too late in the review process to make any difference.But housing board member Tim Semrau feared that a “dream team” approach may abbreviate the input now received from the advisory boards and the public. His suggestion is to keep a final round of recommendations from the P&Z, HPC and housing board after the new joint team formulates a plan.”I’m cautiously optimistic, but still feel the three apolitical volunteer boards should have a public forum. At a minimum, there needs to be adequate input to keep public confidence in public projects,” Semrau said.Housing board member Cari Britton, while agreeing that a joint post-P&Z/housing board meeting could be helpful, was more supportive than Semrau of the proposal.”It’s a good opportunity to try a new solution,” Britton said. “It would definitely, in most cases, help speed up the approval process for both public and private housing.”


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