Infill: Where does it go from here?
Aspen may inch closer today to deciding whether its proposed infill legislation is a good idea.The controversial package of zoning amendments will be the focus of a City Council work session this evening. The Planning and Zoning Commission will also be at the table.The two groups convened for a similar discussion in March, before a series of public hearings before the council got under way. Three months later, a council sporting two new members is still grappling with which, if any, of the proposed changes should be adopted.Public sentiment, meanwhile, seems to be divided between those who believe infill will bring about needed redevelopment and those who predict the resulting changes to the urban landscape will be the ruination of Aspen.”I think the time has come to not drag this on any longer,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud, who’s hoping tonight’s discussion will help the city decide where it’s going with infill.”If we can identify where we’re trying to get with this – is this how to go about doing it or should we try to go about doing it another way?” she said. “Could we do it with our current code, or our current code with some modifications?”Infill, so named because it’s supposed to focus development inward, filling in the townsite rather than sprawling it outward at its edges, has been in the works for some three years.The proposed amendments to all of the city’s zone districts are designed to allow new development and redevelopment. The legislation includes amendments on height restrictions and density, and changes to city requirements that have been deemed too onerous to facilitate the revitalization of buildings.The council dictated a number of amendments to the legislation last month, however, to soften its more controversial aspects. Proposed new height limits, for example, were rolled back and protected view planes, eliminated by the original infill proposal, were restored.The changes did not go far enough, though, to appease critics, several of whom lashed out again at the proposals during last week’s public hearing before the council.”This is not your job, to destroy the town,” said local resident Les Holst.”I urge you to leave this town alone, please,” added Linda Waag.Former Mayor Bill Stirling suggested the council simply incorporate infill’s handful of good ideas into its existing zoning code and scrap the rest.”This large, sweeping change of our Aspen should be shelved indefinitely,” agreed resident Sy Coleman. “I think we ought to take a real step backward, take it apart and stop wasting everybody’s time.””I don’t believe we’re wasting our time because some of these issues need to be discussed,” Klanderud responded.”I think to trash it at this point would be an unbelievable waste of time,” added Ruth Kruger, a P&Z member.Terry Paulson, at this point the sole council member to advocate shelving the legislation, quizzed new council members Rachel Richards and Torre on their thoughts.”Is there a general feeling on council that this is a good thing?” he asked.Paulson did not find a new council majority that is ready to drop the legislation en masse. Torre and Richards both voiced a willingness to at least give the infill proposals further review.”We haven’t decided anything yet,” Klanderud reminded the audience. “The discussion will not kill us.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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