Council tackles community plan | AspenTimes.com

Council tackles community plan

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – After nearly three years of research, writing and revisions, the 2011 Aspen Area Community Plan is finally in the hands of the City Council.Council members began their review of the long-awaited document during a work session Monday evening and will continue the effort at 4:30 p.m. today. At the same time, the city Planning and Zoning Commission is finalizing its review of the plan, a process that is expected to be complete in mid-October. The council is expected to wrap up its review by early December, and could vote to adopt it before the end of the year.According to city long-range planner Jessica Garrow, the council will begin by tackling the plan’s chapters that the P&Z has completed and which lack controversy. The P&Z, meanwhile, is finishing up its work on the hotter topics that deal with growth, development and affordable housing.The new AACP, like its 1993 and 2000 predecessors, as well as community plans in other municipalities and counties across the United States, is akin to a road map upon which to base future government decisions. It is designed to represent the community’s vision for the next decade with regard to the city and unincorporated areas of Pitkin County west of Aspen that have been designated part of the area’s “urban growth boundary.”Recent controversy has centered on whether to adopt the plan as a “regulatory” or “guiding” document. A majority of P&Z members, along with city Community Development Department staff, are recommending passing it as a guiding document. However, city staffers also are suggesting that the council pass changes to various city codes so that the regulations, particularly those that deal with development limitations, will fall in line with the vision of the community plan.”In the past, the AACP was adopted by ordinance and considered regulatory,” says a memorandum to the council from Garrow and others in the Community Development Department. “City Council has used the AACP to evaluate the mass and scale of a development as well as how well the development fits in with the surrounding neighborhood.” As a regulatory document, the plan has been upheld in court cases involving challenges to the city’s development decisions, the memo states.”It is recommended that code changes be made simultaneously [to the community plan’s passage] to ensure that City Council has the ability to address mass and scale and other issues previously addressed by reference to the AACP,” the memo states. “Staff believes that incorporating standards related to mass, scale and neighborhood context directly into the land-use code at the time that the AACP is passed will provide as strong if not a stronger position as was provided by relying on references to the AACP within the code.”Monday’s meeting centered on identifying potential code changes related to development projects and a review of the chapter on the “Aspen Idea.” The following council sessions, which are open to the public, have been scheduled for future community plan chapter review:Today: “Historic Preservation and the Lifelong Aspenite”Oct. 4: “Transportation, Parks & Recreation/Open Space/Trails and Environmental Stewardship”Nov. 7: “West of Castle Creek Corridor”Nov. 29: “Housing and Managing Growth for Community and Economic Sustainability”Dec. 5: “Continuation of discussion on Managing Growth for Community and Economic Sustainability”Dec. 6: introduction and overviewAll meetings take place in the basement of Aspen City Hall, 130 S. Galena St.asalvail@aspentimes.com