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Development moratorium contains some exemptions

John Colson

Projects such as redevelopment of the Limelite, the Dancing Bear and the old Chart House building will not face delays because of a moratorium on development the City Council approved Tuesday.All of those projects have yet to get building permits, but they are exempt because they are far enough along in the process.However, one project subject to the building permit moratorium, according to statements at Tuesday’s meeting, is the planned redevelopment of the Lift One Condos at the base of Shadow Mountain. The project must wait until the expiration of the moratorium, scheduled for Oct. 31, before attempting to get a building permit.Council members on Tuesday approved the emergency moratorium on most new development applications by a 4-1 margin, known as a “supermajority,” which is required for emergency legislation. The move was a response to public anxiety regarding the noise, dust and other impacts of the construction season, and the council called for the city’s Community Development Department to begin working on a way to monitor the pace of development around town. The intent, according to the council, is to find a way of controlling the rate of growth through building permits. The council for some time debated what to exempt from the moratorium.”I can’t take a step that would halt somebody” hoping to remodel a home or mobile home, said Councilman Torre, particularly if the person had already gone through some part of the city’s land-use review process and was close to approvals.Chief among the automatic exemptions were single-family home and duplex projects that would not expand the original structure’s size under a redevelopment or remodeling proposal. Small-scale additions also are exempt.Smuggler Park, formerly known as Smuggler Trailer Park, received a wholesale exemption because it is a bastion of the local working class and not part of a speculative frenzy that has gripped Aspen for years. Some noted, however, that some homes are now selling in Smuggler Park for $1 million or more.Council members agreed that projects already “in the pipeline” – meaning applications have been submitted and accepted as complete, and the review process has begun but not been completed – will have an opportunity to appeal their inclusion in the moratorium.Such an appeal, however, will have to include proof of an unusual “hardship” or that the project in question should not fall under the moratorium for specific and legally sound reasons.Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss wanted to include in the moratorium all building permits “that would have the effect of increasing floor area of any building” within the proposed development.In comments leading up to the vote, DeVilbiss called it “a drastic remedy” to what some have characterized as an ongoing “development frenzy.”He said the city’s land-use review process has not achieved certain intended goals, such as housing 60 percent of the local work force in the upper valley.But DeVilbiss’ proposal failed to win support from Torre and Mayor Helen Klanderud, who both said it would harm property owners who merely wanted to redevelop, remodel or expand their own homes.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com


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