City of Aspen seeks board members to review development projects |

City of Aspen seeks board members to review development projects

Carolyn Sackariason
The Aspen Times

The city of Aspen is calling on volunteers who would like to study reams of paper filled with complicated references to the land-use code and government speak.

Well, that is not exactly the advertisement city officials would post seeking board members for the Planning and Zoning Commission.

But it’s a big part of the job — and an important one. Planning and zoning is the reviewing body for all land-use applications, and it makes recommendations to City Council. So any development that requires council approval must first be reviewed by the all-volunteer, nine-member board.

Right now, it’s only a five-member board. Two people recently resigned and the board already was down two, City Clerk Linda Manning said.

The board is comprised of seven members, with two alternates. That makeup was changed from five members with two alternates a couple of years ago in an effort to ensure there’s a quorum.

Mayor Steve Skadron started his civic duties in 2003 serving as an alternate, and then shortly after, he became a voting member.

“When I started on (Planning and Zoning) I had never heard of it,” he said, adding that then-mayor Helen Klanderud had suggested it after he verbalized he wanted to volunteer. “It was totally foreign to me. I didn’t know what the land use code was.”

He soon realized how impactful and important the work was to the community.

“The people who sit on that committee have influence,” he said. “If you want to have some say in your community, (Planning and Zoning) is the place to do it.”

As a member of council, Skadron said the first thing he does before reviewing a development application is read the minutes from the Planning and Zoning meeting to determine what it thinks of the project.

He said once he got up to speed, it was a manageable time commitment. The commission meets twice a month for about two hours.

Manning said it’s always a challenge to get people to volunteer on the city’s numerous boards.

Recently, there were as many as 19 open seats. Council last month conducted board interviews and filled most of them.

Manning said one board member and alternate is needed for the Next Generation Advisory Board, as well as one board member for the Historic Preservation Commission and one alternate for the city’s open space and trails commission.

“We could always use board members,” Manning said, adding that to be eligible, interested people must be a registered voter and have lived within the city limits for the past year. “We are really encouraging (Planning and Zoning) board participation right now.”

If anyone is interested in that — or any other board — they can go to the city clerk’s page on the city’s website to fill out an application.