E-mails blast hotel project
Neighbors of a proposed new hotel at the base of Lift 1A have inundated the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission with e-mails expressing their objections to the project.Weve never had this before, said Jasmine Tygre, P&Z chairwoman and a longtime member of the commission.P&Z members have been advised not to read the correspondence, since they arent supposed to take public input on a project under their review outside of the formal hearings.Tygre said shes simply forwarding e-mails regarding The Lodge at Aspen Mountain to city staffers, who are printing them out and distributing them to the commission at its hearings, when the letters are formally entered into the public record.Another stack of e-mail printouts were handed to P&Z members last night.Virtually every e-mail objects to the size and height of the proposed hotel, as well as its intrusion into the setbacks around the property.We beg you to please do what you have the power [to do] to protect us from this monster and give us something that will be easier to live with, wrote a couple of Lift One condo owners.Standing at the Lift One property line and visualizing the current proposal is scary, concluded another.Residents of the southernmost Lift One building and the Juan Street affordable housing complex would be most affected by the project, eyed for a 2.5-acre site between South Aspen and South Garmisch streets. Juan Street splits the property.The project combines standard hotel rooms, fractional-ownership units, free-market condos, affordable housing and underground parking.At 334,989 total square feet, it would be the largest building in Aspen, according to attorney Doug Allen, representing Lift One condo owners.P&Z members have also expressed concern about the buildings mass, but Tuesdays hearing focused on the hotels traffic impacts.Traffic is my biggest concern with this whole thing, said Jasmine dePagter, whose family runs the Holland House lodge across Aspen Street from the project site.The developers traffic consultant estimates the hotel will generate an additional 65 trips during a peak afternoon hour well within the existing capacity of the affected streets.The increase in traffic in the peak hour, worst-case scenario, is nominal, said Sunny Vann, planning consultant for the applicants.Neighbors expressed doubt about the projections, and P&Z members suggested street capacity is not their sole concern.Steep South Aspen Street, where the hotels main entrance will be located, can be treacherous during the winter months.Would it increase the number of people sliding around? Arguably so, Vann said.P&Z member Roger Haneman questioned what level of winter maintenance is accorded the street now and whether it can be improved.I live over by Wheeler-Stallard, and Im pretty sure the snow on my street has been declared historic and not to be removed, he said.In addition, the hotel developers plan to replace Lift 1A with a new chair thats similar to the Ruthies lift may draw additional skiers to that side of the mountain, Tygre noted. There isnt any public parking there to speak of.Its a big sticking point in my mind, she said. It would be really great, I think, for the town and the resort to have a better Lift 1A. The question is how do you accommodate it.The P&Zs review of the conceptual plans for the hotel is scheduled to continue Feb. 3.[Janet Urquharts e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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