Council tables bar talk
October 10, 2007
ASPEN The real news at Tuesdays Aspen City Council meeting wasnt so much what the council accomplished, as what it did not do.Early in the meeting, council member Jack Johnson made it clear he was going to recommend that discussion of the Cooper Street Pier redevelopment be tabled to a later meeting.Johnson noted that the attorney representing the developers, David Lenyo, had sent in a 28-page legal memo outlining Lenyos belief that the council does not have the right to deny the redevelopment proposal.The city does not have authority to deny a land-use application that complies with all the objective land-use regulations, Lenyo wrote.The project has won recommendations for approval from the citys Planning and Zoning Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission and city staff. The proposal already has secured approval to demolish the existing three-story building and develop a four-story commercial and residential building, comprising 3,827 square feet of net leasable space divided between the basement, first and second floors. A 2,008-square-foot free-market condo will take the third and fourth floors.But at least two council members have said they oppose the plan Steve Skadron, who voted against the proposal when he sat on the P&Z, and Johnson.Johnson termed Lenyos memo bullying, and an attack on me, since it singled out many of Johnsons remarks for refutation.We certainly did not intend to bully anyone, rejoined Lenyo, and other council members said they did not agree with Johnsons assessment of the memo.But attorney Jim True, who is acting as special counsel in the absence of city attorney John Worcester, said he had discussed the memo with assistant city attorney David Hoefer but had not had time to fully analyze it or draft a memo to council.The council voted to put off further consideration of the Cooper Street proposal until Nov. 12.Pulled parkingIn other action, the council fulfilled its pledge to put an expansion of the citys paid parking program several blocks further into the residential neighborhoods surrounding the commercial core.The plan, which was proposed by the citys parking department, was on the councils agenda as a public hearing. But in September, the council concluded that the plan was not fully thought out, although it is expected to be revived in some new form in the future.The council went ahead with a proposal to raise the parking fees assessed both at the parking meters around the commercial core and in other parts of the city. Overall, parking fees will rise by about 30 percent in the commercial core and in the Rio Grande Parking Garage, which will increase city revenues by more than $500,000 per year, according to city estimates.The council also passed, on first reading, a controversial amendment to the citys historic preservation regulations, which permits historic designation to be applied to buildings 30 years old or older.But the Mayor Mick Ireland and planning staffers made it clear that the proposed regulation will change over the coming weeks, incorporating refinements suggested by the city council and by citizens working with the planners.A public hearing on the proposal, Ordinance 45, is scheduled for Oct. 22.John Colson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.