Daily recuses self from Sky Hotel application for conflict of interest
November 25, 2014
Aspen City Councilman Art Daily recused himself from reviewing the Sky Hotel's redevelopment application Monday at the urging of City Attorney Jim True, who cited a potential conflict of interest concerning a client at the law firm where Daily works.
Daily, an attorney at Holland & Hart, chose not to name the client but said the interested party works with his partner Tom Todd, who specializes in real estate, construction, housing and community development.
"They have differences with the Sky Hotel property," Daily said of the client after the meeting, calling it classic differences between neighbors. "I very much regret having to recuse myself. No matter how difficult it gets, I'd rather be part of the deliberation and voting. That's what I signed on for."
Daily said disclosing the identity of the client would be inappropriate. True explained that the client's potential interest raises issues of Daily's ethical responsibilities, both to the client and the city.
Mayor Steve Skadron called the development application significant, "perhaps a harbinger for" future applications, and asked True what the threshold is for such a conflict. True said the client has theoretical interest in the application and added that he wouldn't want to put the council in a compromising situation if someone challenges potential approval.
Daily's recusal leaves Skadron, Councilwoman Ann Mullins and Councilmen Adam Frisch and Dwayne Romero as the board's reviewing parties. Sky Hotel plans would see the 34-foot-tall, 43,605-square-foot structure at 709 E. Durant Ave. replaced with a 45-foot-tall, 96,289-square-foot hotel. The zone district allows for 40 feet in height and 92,783 square feet in overall floor area.
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Increasing the number of lodge units from 90 to 106, the project includes five on-site, affordable-housing units, six free-market, residential units and five fractional-ownership units. The four-story structure also calls for a rooftop deck with a swimming pool, accounting for much of the 12,678 square feet of public-amenity space, which is about three times the requirement.
During the application's first reading Monday, Mullins said she is curious to hear the applicant's justification for height, size and design of the structure.
"I'm surprised it's gotten as far as it has," she said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the application in a 4-1 vote Oct. 21. Skadron said he will be interested in knowing every variance request at public hearing, which is scheduled for Dec. 1. The owner of the property is Washington, D.C.,-based firm Northridge Capital, represented by John Sarpa.