Moratorium extension granted on Aspen residential development |

Moratorium extension granted on Aspen residential development

Aspen City Council votes unanimously to extend moratorium through Aug. 8

In what could be a record time in decision-making from the current Aspen City Council, elected officials on Tuesday spent 11 minutes considering and voting unanimously to extend the moratorium on new residential development another two months.

No members of the public commented during council’s special meeting to consider a second reading of Ordinance 8, which extends the moratorium on new land-use applications seeking development or approval and certain building permits for residential uses, from June 8 through Aug. 8.

Council first introduced the moratorium extension last week after city staff in community development said it was necessary to finish the work associated with mitigating the growth the residential development industry is creating.

City officials have argued that the moratorium is a necessary tool to pause development while new regulations are created, and it ensures the activity does not further exacerbate what have been described as emergency conditions in the community.

Ordinance 8 only addresses the residential development moratorium and is not associated with Ordinance 26, passed by council in December that pauses the issuance of new permits for short-term rental properties through Sept. 30.

The two-month extension on residential development is the shortest schedule possible, according to Phillip Supino, the city’s director of community development.

“The extension will provide council and the community time to review, understand and comment on staff’s work, responding to the moratorium,” he said.

Supino estimated that more than 50% of staff time devoted to the moratorium was spent on community engagement with citizens and those who work in real estate, development and vacation rental properties.

“I think it’s a reflection of how seriously staff and the community take these subjects,” he said.

As they did at last week’s meeting, council members expressed their gratitude to staff for working diligently on mitigation measures and possible legislation.

“Obviously there was a crisis in the community and we’re doing our best to address it and we need more time to do that,” Councilman John Doyle said. “I think that is the direction we have to go; backing away now would be sending the wrong message.”

Pending legislation to regulate short-term rental permits is expected as an ordinance on first reading at council’s May 24 meeting.

An ordinance regulating residential development is scheduled for June 14.

Second reading for both ordinances is expected June 28.