Officials: Burlingame is not the place for dogs | AspenTimes.com
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Officials: Burlingame is not the place for dogs

Jeremy Heiman

It’s looking bad for dog owners who want to own a home in the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing project.

An opportunity for public comments at an all-day Burlingame Task Force meeting drew a handful of dog lovers. Though officials were sympathetic, they could do no more than point to an agreement that made Burlingame a dog-free development from the very start of the planning process.

With 225 units, the development will be built primarily on land owned by the Zoline family, between Deer Hill and Maroon Creek. The Zolines continue to operate a cattle ranch on the property. Concerned that unleashed dogs and newborn calves are not a good mix, they insisted that, if the Burlingame project was to be built, dogs not be permitted.

Erik Skarvan, a Centennial resident, argued that those who buy houses at Burlingame be allowed to have dogs. The development may be the last hope for many who want to own a home in Aspen, he said.

Why should homeowners at Burlingame, which has been heralded as family housing, be forced to give up one member of their family, Skarvan asked.

Dog owners Allison Campbell and Kim Allen echoed Skarvan’s comments. Debbie Braun, who lives in Blue Lake, said she and her husband want to move to Aspen, where they both work.

“I find it funny that I can take my dog to work, but, if I lived at Burlingame, I couldn’t take him home,” she said.

Braun said she and her family might have to leave the valley if they couldn’t eventually buy into affordable housing in Aspen.

Skarvan observed that numerous residents of Centennial are in a similar situation. They need to move to larger housing, and if they are unable to get it, whether because the housing is not available or because their dogs can’t go with them, they’ll move out of the valley instead, he said.

“There’s a lot of people in Centennial who are either going to move up or out,” Skarvan said.

Tom McCabe, a Housing Authority Board member and Aspen City Councilman, said that according to his observations, whether it concerns picking up dog excrement or allowing dogs to chase game animals, only about one-third of dog owners behave responsibly. He recalled that, due to recommendations of wildlife experts, the Burlingame project wouldn’t have been approved without the dog prohibition.

Aspen Mayor Rachel Richards told the dog advocates she takes their concerns seriously, but the deer herd that frequents the area has to be considered.

“They call it Deer Hill for a reason,” Richards said. She noted that even well-meaning dog owners can be expected to let their dogs run loose under cover of darkness.

Dog owner Braun asked whether the dog issue was actually up for debate.

“No,” Richards replied. She deferred to Pam Zoline Lifton, who restated the ranching argument.

“Having a bunch of dogs suddenly introduced right next to the ranch is just not workable,” she said. The people who buy multimillion-dollar free-market homes on the Burlingame Ranch won’t be allowed to have dogs, either, she said.

But Allen was not convinced.

“I just want a glimmer of hope that I can be one of maybe 25 people [who] have dogs,” Allen begged.

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