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Don’t buy a dead fish

Dear Editor:Dwight Shellman is a good lawyer. His role in the anti-Burlingame campaign is to produce a pretext for our community to renege on our contracts. Thus he claims that we could’ve applied the land use codes differently to get “a better deal.” He made these same protests in 2000; however 60 percent of Aspen’s voters disagreed with him, and instead advised the city to enter into our current preannexation agreements. A good contract is the sum of all its parts. Dwight’s objection to Aspen’s contracts directly contradicts our goal of making this a major land preservation project – to see 80 acres of the Bar/X Ranch put in conservation rather than becoming a large free-market subdivision. Could the city have negotiated with the Zolines to build housing instead of getting a 21-acre site for our community’s long-term housing needs? Sure, but that would have led to more free-market lots to cover the cost, diminishing the open space values.Our contracts were crafted knowing how the Zolines could have otherwise developed their ranch under the county code; i.e. a far larger subdivision with much bigger free-market homes and a lot less affordable housing. Dwight’s conjecture about how the contract could have been structured and what the Zolines could have been asked to pay disregards the land conservation values of our agreements. Further, his frame of reference ignores the cost to the city for proceeding with its own housing project on the land it purchased with housing money in 1997. With our current contracts, in addition to the Zoline’s 80 acres of conservation, the city will dedicate 110 acres for open space. The city will forgo housing on its land, in exchange for a housing site on the Zoline’s property. Dwight’s “we could’ve gotten more” line of attack and correspondingly contrived numbers would have the Zolines and the city building two separate, disjointed housing projects, with no cost sharing on the infrastructure, instead of just one compact, carefully planned neighborhood.The preannexation agreement, which Aspen voted on, accomplishes multiple community goals: open space preservation, limited free-market development, and quality affordable housing. Dwight doesn’t share all of these goals, so he has had to fabricate justifications to encourage us to act in bad faith, to offer some excuse to make it seem “OK” ethically to breach the contracts we voted on. He doesn’t seem to understand today’s housing shortfalls nor care about our community’s needs 20 years from now. He won’t acknowledge the contribution that those living in affordable housing make to the economy, sustainability or social fabric of Aspen; instead he just cast these folks as negative impacts.Dwight is hawking a red herring; an attempt to get you to break a very good land conservation and housing contract under the premise that we should’ve gotten a different housing proposal, when his real motive is to eliminate the potential for housing altogether. Don’t be buying that dead fish. Vote “yes” for Burlingame on May 3. Rachel E. RichardsAspen


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