Homeowners try to prevent brewery from moving in | AspenTimes.com

Homeowners try to prevent brewery from moving in

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times
Representatives behind the Aspen Power Plant are currently negotiating terms to move into the Mill Street space formerly home to the Aspen Art Museum.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Editor’s note: Because the following story did not run in its entirety in Friday’s edition, we are running it in its complete form today.

Some 30 homeowners have banded together in opposition to the Aspen Power Plant, a concept that won Aspen City Council approval in March to move into the Old Power House on Mill Street.

Oklahoma Flats homeowner Bill Budinger, who is helping coordinate the effort, said Thursday that more than 30 families have signed on against the Power Plant, a proposal that features an Aspen Brewing Co. brewery, an Aspen 82 TV studio and an incubator workspace. Officials have explored rezoning the property from residential use to public use, which would require council approval at a public hearing. For decades,the Aspen Art Museum occupied the space as a nonconforming use.

The opposition, which Budinger said is made up of full-time residents and second-home owners, is arguing that a brewery is not an appropriate use in a residential neighborhood, citing noise, light and smell as infringements. The larger issue, he said, is the integrity of Aspen’s land-use code.

“This is an issue of community concern,” Budinger said by phone from New York. “Can people rely on the zoning? If you buy a home in a zone that’s residential, can you be sure that a hotel is not going to go up next door, or a restaurant? I think that’s important and fair.”

Power Plant representatives could not be reached for comment.

Budinger, who said he spends between seven and eight months a year in Aspen, regarded Aspen Brewing Co. owner Duncan Clauss, Aspen 82 co-owner David Cook and workspace coordinator Gordon Bronson as “good people.” But based on Referendum 1 election results, he argued that many Aspen residents would agree a rezoning is inappropriate.

City Attorney Jim True said Thursday that officials are aware of the homeowner opposition, but the city is moving forward with negotiations as planned. He added that officials have not decided whether to move forward with the rezoning as proposed.

“We’re still discussing moving forward with these applicants. We’re negotiating terms and procedures with them,” True said. “We have heard that there are some who may oppose (the proposal).”

Though negotiations are ongoing, True said there were no meetings scheduled between the city and the applicants as of Thursday.

The Power Plant bested four other finalists for the space in a monthslong review that included oversight from a resident-led committee. The committee suggested four finalists for the space, including the Aspen Science Center, the Red Brick’s Powerhouse Performance and Event Center, GrassRoots TV’s Aspen Media Powerhouse and the John Denver Museum and Cultural Center.

The council nixed the John Denver concept and added two others: the Power Plant and resident Paul Kienast’s community center. Keinast and GrassRoots TV were the first two proposals struck from the conversation. The science center and the Red Brick received serious consideration before the Power Plant won out, with council members citing the proposal’s vitality and broad appeal as strengths.

Elizabeth Milias, a resident who has signed onto the opposition, said neighbors found the other three proposals to be acceptable uses in the space. She said they are more in line with the Aspen Art Museum, which served as “a great neighbor.”

Officials have said that the building is in need of about $1 million in repairs, and city staff has recommended the installation of a commercial kitchen, which would cost between $300,000 and $600,000. Clauss has said his business is preparing as if it would be on the hook for about $1.7 million in construction.