Discussion on Aspen building heights will continue
November 13, 2012
ASPEN – Community Development Department suggestions for loosening up recently implemented downtown development restrictions – including the 28-foot height limitation on new downtown projects and what amounts to a moratorium on third-floor free-market residences – failed to gain much traction at Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting.
Still, the introduction of Ordinance 25, which lays out various code-amendment options for downtown heights and uses, passed unanimously, as most ordinances do upon first reading. More discussion, a narrowing of alternatives and a public hearing is expected at the council’s next regular meeting Nov. 26. The back-and-forth might carry over to December.
Jessica Garrow, long-range planner for the city, presented a mix of options, including:
• A 13-foot minimum first-floor height in the Commercial Core District and 11 feet in the Commercial-1 District just east of the core.
• A 38- to 40-foot overall maximum height in the Commercial Core District and a 36- to 38-foot limit in the Commercial-1 District.
• Only allowing free-market residences on landmark, or historic, properties.
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• Only allowing free-market residential units when equal amounts of affordable housing are provided on-site.
• Only allowing free-market units of 2,000 square feet on any property through the purchase of transferable development rights.
• Allowing already-established free-market units to expand through the use of transferable development rights. For example, the city could allow existing units the ability to expand by 500 square feet through the purchase of one transferable development right.
Mayor Mick Ireland said he proposes that the only exceptions to the 28-foot limit would be for hotel projects – and only if they are built on the north side of a block so as not to obstruct view planes or block sunlight.
“I don’t mean a time-share, a fractional, a condominium,” he said. “I mean a hotel.”
Councilman Torre said he didn’t see anything among the department’s options with which he could find favor.
“On my memo, I’ve got a bunch of different options,” Torre said. “I think I’ve got a bunch of ‘nos’ and one ‘hell, no.’ “
Torre agreed that raising maximum heights for a lodge would be OK but said he had issues with allowing other uses such as free-market residences.