HPC: Sheppard addition gets just two stories | AspenTimes.com

HPC: Sheppard addition gets just two stories

John Colson

Aspen’s historic watchdogs held their ground on Wednesday night, insisting that a proposed addition to an historic downtown house be no taller than two stories.

But they did not go quite as far as Historic Preservation Commission member Roger Moyer wanted them to – which was to tell the owner of the A.G. Sheppard house to not build an addition at all.

Former HPC and City Council member Jake Vickery tried for nearly two hours to convince the commission that the proposed addition represented a “100 percent preservation project” and that a three-story addition in the back of the property would not detract from the historic home.

But the commission members, backed by a strong showing of public support, ended up convincing the property owners that their best option would be to forget the third story.

The historic home, located at the corner of Monarch Street and Hopkins Avenue, is one of only a few Victorian homes remaining in Aspen’s downtown and is one of the oldest structures in town. Vickery, representing property owner John Davis, had proposed to leave the existing 1883 home untouched except for the removal of the “non-historic” kitchen added to the back of the home in the 1950s.

The main proposed changes to the property involved moving a small, historic shed from its existing location next to the alleyway to a new location along the Monarch Street sidewalk and close to the back of the house. This would make room for construction of a new three-story structure at the back of the property, the top floor of which was proposed to be a free-market apartment.

Amy Guthrie, the city’s historic preservation planner, said the proposed new structure would not violate the city’s view plane ordinance.

But public sentiment, judging from the remarks made at the meeting, was overwhelmingly against the project, despite indications from Guthrie and commission members that the applicants had gone to considerable trouble to accommodate the commission’s concerns and suggested changes over the course of six meetings.

“We, all of us, me included, have just about loved Aspen to death,” declared former Mayor Eve Homeyer.

Breaking into tears, Homeyer criticized the project as contributing to Aspen’s metamorphosis into “just another overgrown resort community” with none of its original, unique attributes.

“I think it’s a disgrace,” she told the commission. “Why can’t we do what we said we were going to do? We said we were going to preserve it.”

One after another, citizens stood to decry the proposed addition, which would stand directly across an alleyway from another controversial structure – the three-story tower at the back of Nick Kuhn’s property at the corner of Main and Monarch.

Only one citizen – W.B. Walton, who has owned a Victorian home in the downtown area for more than two decades – spoke up in favor of the developer’s plans.

“You are not treating everyone equally,” Walton accused the commission in an emotional speech.

Although he acknowledged, “I wish that house would stay the way it is,” he added that the owners “cannot afford to do that.”

After considerable discussion, most commission members agreed that they could support a two-story addition that did not overwhelm the historic house.

Most also admitted, in agreement with Moyer, that they would rather not see any development at all at the back of the property. But when Assistant City Attorney Dave Hoefer cautioned them that they could not put such a restriction on the property under the city codes, they opted to go for a two-story addition with other minor changes to the development plan.

The project will be before the HPC again in late September.


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