Plans to rebuild base of Ajax in snowplough mode
The amount of minutia and detail surrounding a new lift corridor at the base of Aspen Mountain has forced landowners involved to slow down their planning.
That means land-use applications for the Lift One Lodge and Gorsuch Haus won’t be filed until late August; they were expected this month.
“The schedule is basically pushed back a month,” said Jennifer Phelan, the city of Aspen’s deputy director of planning, of the Lift 1A project.
Aspen City Council was expected to be reviewing new land-use applications for the lodging properties early this fall. Now it will be in November.
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Developers of both projects are reconfiguring their projects to accommodate a newly designed chairlift that goes down to Dean Street.
This past spring, the four landowners at the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side agreed on a new lift alignment, which came after a year of studying nine options.
Those who own property in the area are the city of Aspen; Aspen Skiing Co.; local hoteliers Michael and Aaron Brown, who have approvals for a new Lift One Lodge; as well as retailer Jeff Gorsuch and his partners, who are proposing to build a new hotel, the Gorsuch Haus.
There are many issues that need to be sorted out between property owners — from lift operations, mudflow, grading, site planning and uses on the parcels — to who is going to pay for it all.
“It’s gotten a little complicated,” said Phelan, who is working closely with all the parties. “The developers have to work it out.”
Officials expect that those hotel redesigns will likely trigger a public vote because of variances to the land-use code that developers may ask for. The development and lift would affect city-owned property, which also requires a vote.
A special election is planned for Feb. 5. But that might have to be changed if voters this fall approve moving the city’s municipal election from May to March.
City Clerk Linda Manning said according to state statute, special elections cannot be held within 90 days preceding a general election. Also, the statute says a special election cannot occur within 32 days before or after any election.
Special elections also have to be held on the first Tuesday of the month, according to the city’s home rule charter.
The Feb. 5 date was selected because it fell within the timeframe before the regularly scheduled May 7 municipal election.
If the city’s election moves to March 5 and a possible runoff on April 2, the soonest the Lift 1A special election could happen is May 7 — much to the chagrin of the city clerk.
“Ironically, that would have been our regular election day,” Manning said.
However, there is no requirement for the Lift 1A issue to go to a special election. It could be asked at the regular municipal election, or appear on the runoff ballot.
“There is no need to have three elections in three months. We can save taxpayer money,” Manning said.
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Aspen Skiing Co. and most of the Colorado ski industry were cruising along in a second strong season, until the coronavirus crisis forced their closure on March 14. Skier visits would typically be announced this week, but the ski industry is focused on forging ahead rather than looking back.