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Editorial deceived public

Jeff Tippett
co-chairman, CRG

The editorial that appeared in The Aspen Times on March 12 grossly deceived the public regarding Snowmass Village Initiative Ordinance No. 2.

The editorial implied that the electorate would have to vote on ” … every major variance granted to a homeowner …” Since this editorial appeared, we have received numerous calls from homeowners asking if their home remodel will require voter approval.

The Initiative will not affect single-family homes. The first sentence of the Initiative Ordinance states, “An ordinance amending portions of Section 16A-5-300 of the Town of Snowmass Village Land Use Code to require a vote of the electorate to approve certain variations to the height and buildout requirements of PUDs.”

All single-family homes in Snowmass Village are in a single-family zone district (either SF-15 or SF-30) and are not PUDs (“planned unit development”). The procedures for requesting and granting variations from the zone limits are in place and will not be affected by the Initiative.

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On Jan. 19, the Town Council held an extensive discussion of the “unintended consequences” of the Initiative. The town’s senior planner, Chris Conrad, prepared a thorough memo detailing the impacts of the Initiative. No mention was made by town staff or elected officials of any impacts of the Initiative on single-family homes.

To my knowledge, there have been no reports in the media (until this editorial) about the Initiative affecting single-family homes. The Initiative applies only to PUDs, (generally large projects that involve multiple uses).

We believe that a competent editor of a respected newspaper would not allow such a serious error to occur. If the editor had read the first sentence of the Initiative Ordinance or if he had reviewed the Chris Conrad memo, he would have known that single-family homes are not affected. The editor could have checked his facts with a member of the town’s staff, but he obviously did not.

We have not forgotten that a “mistake” by an Aspen Times editor resulted in the firing of a senior member of the town’s planning department last October. That “mistake” and the “mistake” in Friday’s paper cause us to wonder if the editor, who is known to have close family ties with Aspen Skiing Co. executive management, is committing these “mistakes” in an effort to discredit a lawful civic activity that is perceived as contrary to the interests of the Aspen Skiing Co.

We urgently request that The Aspen Times, prior to the election on Tuesday, print a correction to its error and that the placement of the correction be as prominent as the error itself.

We also suggest that it would be in the interest of good journalism that the editor who has a bias on this issue be restricted from further involvement in stories or editorials addressing Base Village or the activities of Citizens for Responsible Growth (“CRG”).


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