Lawsuit: City violated regs with its approval | AspenTimes.com

Lawsuit: City violated regs with its approval

Janet Urquhart

Aspen ignored its own land-use regulations in approving the proposed Main Street visitor center building, according to the Galena Lofts Homeowners Association, which has sued the City Council and Millennium Plaza LLC, would-be developers of the project.The Galena Lofts condos are adjacent to the proposed visitor center project at the corner of Galena and Main streets. The condo owners filed the lawsuit last May, after the city approved the project, then filed a motion seeking dismissal of the suit after a referendum petition drive successfully placed the project on the Nov. 2 ballot. They then filed a motion to withdraw their motion for dismissal, as Millennium Plaza wants one element of the lawsuit resolved. The suit contends covenants on the property would prevent the visitor center project. Property owner Millennium Plaza was formed by Lowell Meyer and Gary Freedman, who brought forth the plan for a multiuse building that would include space for the new Aspen Chamber Resort Association headquarters and visitor center.A recently filed brief outlines in further detail the homeowners’ claims that the City Council exceeded its jurisdiction in approving the project. The lawsuit asks the court to invalidate the city’s approval.According to the brief, the city improperly waived its requirements regarding density, floor area, open space and parking without an explanation or evidence to support the exemptions.The city exempted the entire project from its requirements for affordable housing and parking, even though only 13 percent of the overall project constitutes an “essential public facility,” according to the suit. The public facility elements include the ACRA offices and visitor center.According to the suit, the city granted exemptions from its requirements for commercial space and free-market condos in the building even though there is no provision for the exemptions in the code.In addition, Millennium Plaza had no right to seek approvals for the project, as covenants that apply to the parcel don’t allow any development on the site that exceeds what’s allowed by the zoning, the suit says.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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