Public hearing set on Aspen community plan |

Public hearing set on Aspen community plan

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council will hold a public hearing Monday on the completed update of the Aspen Area Community Plan, a revision that has been either three or four years in the making, depending upon how the timeline is framed.

While the Aspen and Pitkin County planning and zoning commissions began their role in the rewrite process in the spring of 2009, staff work and surveys that would help shape the plan actually began in 2008. In November, both planning and zoning commissions adopted the plan, voting to make it a “guiding” document as opposed to previous incarnations of the plan which were “regulatory” in nature.

The council might take a vote on the plan following public comments. The meeting starts at 5 p.m. in the basement of Aspen City Hall, 130 S. Galena St. The review of the plan is listed near the end of the meeting agenda.

“It is an aspirational document that is used to guide budget priorities, department work programs and potential code or policy changes,” the city’s long-range planner, Jessica Garrow, wrote in a memorandum to council.

“The plan before City Council is the version adopted by the (planning and zoning commissions),” Garrow wrote. “City Council may adopt the plan without any changes, add an addendum to the plan outlining any concerns or policy differences council may have, or adopt a revised version of the plan.”

The community plan has seen its share of controversy, with local business advocates stepping forward last year to argue for changes in tone toward development and lodging. Its content also became an issue during the mayoral and council elections last spring. Meanwhile, the cost to produce it has climbed to more than $500,000, according to city Community Development Department estimates that also take into account two 2008 studies that formed much of the basis of the retooled plan.

The document is designed to be a roadmap on which the city and the county can base future decisions on development and other matters. It includes sections on managing growth; the “West of Castle Creek Corridor” (or gateway to Aspen); transportation; housing; parks, recreation and open space; environmental quality; historic preservation; sustaining the “Aspen Idea”; planning for a “Lifelong Aspenite” (the government’s goal of providing public services for all phases of life); and the urban growth boundary.

The plan includes breakout boxes and photographs intended to inform readers about the philosophy behind it. Planning and zoning commissioners and city and county staff sought to create the document in an easy-to-digest, magazine-style format, although some council members in the recent past have taken issue with its readability.

Over the next several months, the city is expected to embark on various land-use code changes that would conform to the plan. Some council members, possibly a majority, want stricter regulations on development to replace aspects of the land-use code that were loosened during the so-called “infill legislation” of eight years ago.

Infill code changes, which came about during the administration of former Mayor Helen Klanderud, allowed greater height, scale and mass for building projects. However, there has since been a great deal of public outcry over the developments that have been approved in recent years, with many residents claiming that the projects have not been in keeping with Aspen’s small-town character.

Also at tonight’s meeting, council members are expected to weigh in on the issue of adding fluoride to the municipal water supply. A public hearing also is scheduled to allow further discussion on the Aspenwalk proposal, a residential redevelopment plan involving property at 404 Park Ave.