Dogs at Aspen’s Burlingame left up to residents

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Dogs at Aspen’s Burlingame Ranch worker-housing complex didn’t get a “yes” or a “no” from the City Council on Monday. Rather, council members urged current and prospective homeowners to work it out among themselves.

The first phase of Burlingame units was constructed with a no-dogs rule in place, but city staffers have suggested that dogs be allowed at the second phase of homes, now under construction, both to entice potential buyers and to acknowledge the desire of many in the community to own dogs.

“Families and dogs go together in some people’s minds,” said Barry Crook, assistant city manager.

Among 57 prospective buyers of Burlingame Phase II, 70 percent would like the opportunity to own a dog, Crook reported. Roughly the same percentage of existing homeowners at Burlingame don’t want the dog restriction lifted for their homes or for their future, Phase II neighbors, the council was told.

Stringent dog rules for Phase II were proposed, including a “doggy DNA rule” that would require DNA samples from each resident dog so that unattended dog poop could be linked to the guilty canine and its owner.

“It feels a little onerous, … but it absolutely stops those irresponsible dog owners from failing to pick up after their dogs,” Crook said.

The DNA idea – or how the rules would be enforced – received no discussion Monday. Instead, the council heard impassioned pleas from prospective Burlingame residents who want to own dogs, from existing homeowners who don’t want dogs added to a neighborhood that could eventually contain 258 households and more than 700 people and from those who live at Burlingame and would like to own dogs. Others focused on how dogs would or wouldn’t affect wildlife on the surrounding open space.

Shane Allen told the council his household will relinquish their Burlingame reservation if dogs aren’t permitted.

“I want to follow the long-standing Aspen tradition of adding a dog to our family,” said Ashley Cantrell, another prospective buyer.

On the other hand, Karen Thornely said she bought into Burlingame because it doesn’t allow dogs, though her daughter keeps goldfish and a bunny. Thornely said she previously lived in Willits, a Basalt development where she could hear dogs bark when they were left alone in their units.

Jennifer and Tim Carney, who own one of the single-family homes at Burlingame, would like a dog and said it would be frustrating to see Phase II residents own dogs while they remain under a Phase I prohibition.

“The fairness of it goes right out the window,” Tim Carney said.

Some council members leaned toward keeping the dog ban in place rather than changing the rules midstream for existing homeowners, but all said they’d be willing to defer to the wishes of the majority of Burlingame residents. Keeping the prohibition in Phase I but allowing dogs in Phase II found little favor.

“We shouldn’t create this have-or-have-not environment,” Councilman Derek Johnson said.

Mayor Mick Ireland urged existing and prospective homeowners to get together, with the help of a mediator provided by the city, if need be, to see if some agreement can be reached. He suggested 30 days to try to work out a solution, though council members acknowledged that existing homeowners probably have the upper hand in the debate.

“Before you tell somebody, ‘You’re not responsible enough to have a dog,’ look them in the eye,” Ireland told homeowners who advocate a dog ban throughout the development.