Ballot language ready for new chairlift, lodges at base of Aspen Mountain
January 6, 2019
Aspen City Council is poised tonight to sign off on ballot language that would refer two ordinances to voters that, if approved, would see over 300,000 square feet of development at the base of Aspen Mountain's west side.
The ordinances, which combined are 88 pages, detail the approvals for an 81-room hotel known as the Gorsuch Haus and a 104-key Lift One Lodge timeshare project. Both properties also have free-market condominiums.
In between those properties would be a new telemix chairlift that extends about 500 feet farther down the hill than where the current Lift 1A is located.
Other amenities in the entire Lift One Corridor proposal are a ski museum, skier services and ski patrol operations in a relocated and refurbished Skier Chalet Lodge to be situated next to the lift at Dean Street.
There also is a restaurant and bar planned for the Skiers Steakhouse building, as well as public parking and ski lockers, and other amenities.
Tonight's public hearing will be the fifth one that council has held regarding the redevelopment plan.
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The majority of elected officials have agreed on the projects' general site plan, as well as the building's size, height, affordable-housing mitigation, parking and the city's contribution of $4.36 million for public amenities, among many details.
Given that Jan. 14 is the deadline for council to put a question on this spring's ballot, tonight's meeting is the final opportunity to refine the language within the ordinances, according to a memo by city planners Ben Anderson and Mike Kraemer.
If council passes a motion to refer the ordinances, the public vote will occur March 5 during the regular municipal election that also will see two council seats filled and a new mayor.
City Attorney Jim True said he is recommending to council that it refer the ordinances, instead of approving them and then going to a public vote.
That removes the ability for the approvals to be challenged in court via Rule 106, which gives citizens the right to sue their elected officials over quasi-judicial actions.
If council chooses to refer the ordinances, voters will have a lot of homework in studying the details of both projects and the redevelopment of the base of the mountain, which essentially creates a second portal to the ski area.
Ordinance 39 pertains to Gorsuch Haus and is 31 pages. It covers everything from permitting restaurant and retail operations in a lodge zone district and lift operations in a conservation district, to parking, the building's height — which at its tallest point is 50 feet — construction sequencing and dozens of other details.
Ordinance 38 pertains to the Lift One Lodge and is 57 pages. It is more involved than the Gorsuch Haus in that it details easements and agreements with various parties, improvements to Dean Street, ski corridor alignments and many other requirements.
The ballot question itself asks voters to either approve or reject the overall development, as well as rezone land owned by Aspen Skiing Co. from conservation to lodge use, changing the use of city property for a chairlift and allocating taxpayer dollars to the project.
Council meets in the basement of City Hall at 5 p.m. today.
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