El Jebel condo proposal gets a unanimous thumbs-down | AspenTimes.com

El Jebel condo proposal gets a unanimous thumbs-down

If not for a handful of jelly beans, land-use planner Steve Isom would have left a Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission meeting empty-handed Thursday.

Isom, who pitched a large condominium project called Blue Ridge, came out on the losing end of a 5-0 vote. About one hour into the debate, Isom saw the writing on the wall and apparently decided to salvage what he could.

He walked up to the planning commissioners’ table and helped himself to a bag of jellybeans they had been passing around and munching on during the meeting.

Jelly beans aren’t the only things the planning commissioners ate up. They thoroughly criticized the Blue Ridge proposal as too dense.

Blue Ridge property owners Kevin and Tammy Tucker have been trying to develop their property for more than five years. They hold approvals for an 80-unit hotel and 21,600-square-foot commercial complex, but have never been able to put together the financing.

Now they want to scrap the hotel and commercial space and replace it with 121 two- and three-bedroom condominiums. The Tuckers own a 13-acre parcel on a hillside near the heart of El Jebel, across Highway 82 from the City Market.

Their proposal to build the townhouses and condominiums on four benches stepping up the hillside met stiff resistance from the planning commission.

“It’s just going to be a mass of roof lines,” said commission member Bonnie Kowar. That mass would be visible from Highway 82 and everywhere else in the vicinity, she said.

Board chairman Gary Ross, who didn’t vote but did comment on the project, said it showed “a complete lack of creativity.” As proposed, the project would present a solid wall of one type of building on the lower bench, he said.

Ross also said a waiver of the 35-foot height limit was unwarranted for a project proposed on a hillside. The Tuckers want to go to 40 feet in places.

Ross and other board members stressed that the Tuckers’ property is appropriate for development since it’s so close to the El Jebel core – but not for the type of development proposed. Ross said the 121 units might work for him with a better site plan.

Another concern for board members was traffic. In earlier approvals, Blue Ridge was contemplated to have access from El Jebel Road and from a new road connecting to the Willits Lane intersection with Highway 82.

That was designed to alleviate pressure on El Jebel Road. However, since the Tuckers cannot reach an agreement with a neighboring landowner, they are proposing access off El Jebel Road only.

Neighborhood residents contend that road, which provides access to Missouri Heights and the El Jebel Mobile Home Park, is already overwhelmed at times.

“I’m tired of dumping more traffic into an existing problem and making it worse and worse,” said Ross.

But Isom countered that the Tuckers’ reworked residential plan would actually generate less traffic than the old plan.

His efforts to justify the project on several grounds failed to sway the planning commissioners. They voted to advise the county commissioners against amending the approval.

The county commissioners will decide the project’s fate later this fall. Even if they reject the reworked plan, the Tuckers retain rights to build the hotel and commercial complex until April 2001.

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