Limelite concessions set bad precedent
Dear Editor:An editorial is an opinion and I respect everyone’s right to express their opinion. But opinion is not fact, including my own.I quote, “The City Council is concerned about the buildings” proposed 46-foot height, which is 4-feet over the city’s 42-foot height limit.” The 17 free-market units also are proposed to be built to a maximum height of 46-feet (and some elements may be higher). The city height limit for residential units is 28 feet, as pointed out by Councilman Torre at the July 25 City Council meeting. Forty-six feet is 18 feet, or 64 percent, above the height limit. Is this a “fair price to pay?” It isn’t for the owners of 210 Cooper Condominiums. [I reside at 210 E. Cooper, Unit 1A with my wife Andrea Clark, who is the legal owner of that unit.]I understand the concept that some individuals may suffer for the common good of the community, but I submit that we will all eventually suffer if the Limelite is permitted to exceed the 28-foot height limit for the 17 free-market units at all, let alone by an unconscionable 64 percent.”Precedent” is an extremely powerful concept, both legally and morally, as City Council member J.E. DeVilbiss understands far better than most of us. The precedent that will be “set in stone” if the 17 free-market units are allowed to exceed the 28-foot limit affects the entire community in the long run.The ONLY benefit to the community of the Limelite project is 128 “moderately priced” hotel rooms, and I agree with the merits of this benefit. What is “moderately priced?” The developers of the Limelite project have been asked that question in at least three open meetings that I have attended, and no answer has been forthcoming. Why not? Because the Paas family is operating a hotel business and like all intelligent business people, they will operate the hotel to maximize their profits. To put it more crudely, they will charge what the market will bear. This is the “American capitalistic system” of which I am an ardent supporter.The Aspen Times says that “it [City Council] should have assurances that the rooms will stay within an agreed-upon price range.” Does this mean a signed contract with the city? How will it be enforced? Can it legally be enforced? Any intelligent person knows that this is completely unworkable. Assurances? Perhaps the Aspen Times can help the City Council in this regard.The city, and by extension the community, makes a multitude of “concessions” – many of which I submit are quite onerous. In return, the community gets 128 very nice, modern hotel rooms that will be priced at a level that the market will bear to maximize profits. Whether this price level is moderate remains to be seen, but once the Limelite project is approved, moderate will be whatever maximizes profits.I have a proposed solution to the problem that Aspen “doesn’t have enough rooms in real-world price ranges,” but I am already over my 500-word limit and my solution will follow in a subsequent letter.James FrenchAspen
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