Lift One Master Plan to be pulled off Aspen ballot
ASPEN ” Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said Wednesday he plans to make a motion at the March 23 City Council meeting to pull the Lift One Master Plan off the May 5 ballot.
If a council majority rescinds the ballot measure, Aspen voters will not decide the fate of nearly 300,000 square feet of commercial and residential development on the Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain.
Developers John Sarpa and Bob Daniel, along with David Myler, the attorney representing them, met with Ireland and City Attorney John Worcester on Wednesday to discuss the logistics of making amendments to Ordinance 34, which governs the Lift One Master Plan and is what Aspen residents would vote on in May.
“They have some ideas about cutting down the scale and mass substantially,” Ireland said, adding one possibility is that the developers could revise the master plan and come back in front of a new council for approval.
That change in plans is a result of time running out for Sarpa and Daniel to make 11th-hour changes to the Lift One Master Plan.
Any changes to the ordinance must be approved by the Aspen City Council on March 23, which is the deadline to make amendments to or rescind a ballot measure.
That gives officials and developers only a few days to hash out possible changes that address the size of Sarpa’s proposed Lodge at Aspen Mountain, as well as the affordability of its rooms.
“It’s highly unlikely that they can make changes,” Worcester said. “It will be very difficult to get something before the 23rd, and it probably won’t happen.”
After six months of work by a citizen task force known as the Lift One COWOP to create and recommend a master plan for the area, the City Council ” after elected officials were split in a tie vote on approving it ” voted in January to send the development proposal to Aspen voters.
The amendments could involve reducing the size of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain ” a 175,000-square-foot hotel and ownership lodge that is being proposed by Sarpa’s Centurion Partners on South Aspen Street. Guarantees that some of the rooms are moderately priced also are contemplated as amendments to the ordinance.
The other major piece of the master plan is the Lift One Lodge proposed by developers David Wilhelm, Jim Chaffin and Jim Light under the auspices of Roaring Fork Mountain Lodge Aspen LLC and represented by Daniel. It would be 130,000 square feet and built below Lift 1A, in part where the Holland House once operated.
Ireland said one possibility is that the COWOP task force could be reconvened to help shape a smaller development, and critics of the proposal who planned to campaign against a May ballot measure also could be brought in to get consensus, he said.
Sarpa and Daniel were unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon. Several sources have said Sarpa and Daniel have been considering pulling the ballot question because it’s become apparent, based on weeks of phone surveying of residents, that it will fail at the polls.
Ireland said holding off is the best choice, since the task force was rushed in getting its work done, and, as a result, couldn’t address the mass and scale of the mixed-use project. Ireland added that the council’s deadlocked vote on the master plan is a blessing of sorts.
“Had we approved it, we’d be locked into that language, and that would have been extremely divisive,” he said, adding he hopes a consensus can be reached in the community on a new proposal and it won’t have to go to a public vote in the future.
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