County rezones to accommodate ABC fire station |

County rezones to accommodate ABC fire station

Chad Abraham

The Pitkin County commissioners agreed Wednesday to change the zoning of a parcel of land that the Aspen Fire Protection District wants to use for a new fire station near the airport.The decision, which was on first reading, gives the district the land-use designation it needs for the planned 16,000-square-foot substation near the Aspen Business Center. The commissioners did not make a decision on the actual application, instructing staff to study further the possibility of a new intersection and how to handle affordable housing at the site.The commissioners will next discuss the plan, including a final decision on the zoning, April 12.Aspen Fire Chief Darryl Grob said the substation is necessary to provide better emergency services when Main Street is jammed with traffic and to plan for the future. Burlingame, a large new housing development near the ABC, along with nearby ski areas and the Truscott housing complex, will also need fire services. When finished and occupied, Burlingame will house 8 percent of Aspen’s population, Grob told The Aspen Times last year.The district wants the station to be able to serve citizens for the next three decades, he said Wednesday.But neighbors of the North 40 neighborhood next to the proposed site told the commissioners they were concerned about the size of the building.The proposed building, which received the backing of county planners, will be 24 feet at its tallest, 4 feet below the county building code’s maximum. A 34-foot tower, however, is also part of the plan. The fire department would use it for training, and it would aid the drying of water hoses, district consultant Alan Richman said.North 40 Homeowners’ Association president Adam Rothberg said children also play near the site and that Front Way, a road in the area, has barely enough room for two cars to pass. Front Way usually has vehicles parked on it, he added.Commissioner Mick Ireland asked how fire trucks will be able to get out of the ABC, which has an intersection he said is questionable.”We’re going to build this fire station and then send people through this horrible intersection,” Ireland said.But Commissioner Patti Kay-Clapper fought the decision to study the idea of adding a new access point to Highway 82 for the substation. She said the idea has already been studied. The Colorado Department of Transportation would have to OK a new traffic light and the county does not have the money to build one anyway, she said.The commissioners were also sympathetic to the construction junction that is the North 40. Home building in the dense Aspen suburb is going into its sixth straight year.Nevertheless, Commissioner Dorothea Farris told the residents that having the substation and firefighters nearby is a good idea for the area.”You certainly want them there,” she said.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is

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