Political overkill and Burlingame
It looks as though city of Aspen voters will have yet another opportunity to bring the Burlingame Ranch affordable housing project to a public vote. They should decline the offer, because the time to kill this development was 2000 and far too much has happened since then.Already Burlingame opponents have submitted signatures for two petitions that would create a new set of rules for city housing projects, rules intended to stop Burlingame and other large affordable housing developments. While City Clerk Kathryn Koch has not yet verified the signatures on those petitions, it appears the two measures will appear on the city’s May 3 ballot.Isn’t two initiatives enough? Apparently not for Burlingame opponents. Following Monday’s Aspen City Council approval of the annexation agreement for Burlingame, Councilman Terry Paulson and Toni Kronberg filed a petition with Koch’s office that, if signed by 491 voters, would put the annexation before voters in a referendum. This effort is political overkill, and it’s coming too late.Voters endorsed a preannexation agreement between the city and the Zoline family, owners of the property in question, in August 2000. That green light set in motion a series of subsequent decisions and agreements culminating in this week’s Ordinance 39, the annexation that a majority of council members approved.To pull the plug on all that work in 2005 would be a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money and resources. And, as Burlingame supporters have pointed out, it would also breach agreements made between the Zolines and the city. Not only would all the city’s planning and engineering work go down the tubes; taxpayers would also foot the bill for whatever legal trouble the city would incur by backing out of the deal.Burlingame Ranch is not without its impacts. The deals struck between the Zolines and the city allow a dozen free-market homes on the Zoline property, and Burlingame itself will create a new neighborhood on a large chunk of open land between Maroon Creek and the Aspen Business Center. We understand the opposition to the project.But voters charted this course nearly five years ago, and it’s just too late for an about-face. Voters should refrain from signing this referendum petition. Two wrong-headed ballot measures are enough.
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.