Homeowner offers off-site worker unit
Expressing little faith in Aspen’s policy on employee dwelling units, the housing board voted Wednesday to let an Aspen Meadows homeowner provide an off-site unit to house a local worker.
“Frankly I think it’s great if we get a guarantee, knowing it’ll be rented, because frankly, I don’t trust the EDU system,” said board Chairwoman Jackie Kasabach.
Employee dwelling units, or EDUs, are individual employee housing units the city often requires as part of a free-market home approval. The units, often called caretaker units, are typically attached or adjacent to the main home.
On Wednesday, representatives of a prospective buyer for a Meadows free-market home petitioned the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Board to allow an off-site employee unit. In 1991, a condition for approval of four free-market homes at the Meadows was construction of an employee dwelling unit on each of the four lots.
Due to the design of the home in question, which would place the employee unit adjacent to the master bedroom, the prospective buyer offered to convert a free-market unit in town to a deed-restricted employee unit instead.
A final decision on the matter is up to the Aspen City Council, but housing board members saw the substitution as a net gain for the housing program.
However, Julie Ann Woods, the city’s head planner, expressed concern, because the EDUs were envisioned as a way to “integrate” the Meadows neighborhood.
But, the city doesn’t require that EDUs be rented and future owners of the Meadows homes must personally approve the employee applying for the unit on their property.
“The owners can reject employee after employee and never rent the unit, and that doesn’t get us anywhere,” said Francis Krizmanich, planner for the Meadows applicant.
Housing board members agreed with Krizmanich and noted that a deed-restricted unit elsewhere would be a better assurance that a local worker benefits from construction of the free-market home.
“It could be a better unit in a better location and as long as this is done on a case-by-case basis, I don’t see the downside,” said board member Tim Semrau.
“I’d rather get a guaranteed unit rather than a nebulous, theoretical integrated neighborhood,” Kasabach agreed.
Krizmanich told the housing board that the applicant hasn’t chosen the substitute unit in town, but is eyeing several possibilities. He said he hopes a suitable unit will be identified before the request goes to the City Council.
As part of its recommendation, the housing board suggested the substitute unit be rented or sold at Category 2 prices.
The other three Meadows homes in the development include plans for detached carriage houses as employee dwelling units.
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Highway 82 is closed in both directions Wednesday morning after a multiple vehicle crash, according to a Pitkin County alert.