Public to P&Z: Pull plug on pool plan | AspenTimes.com
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Public to P&Z: Pull plug on pool plan

Janet Urquhart

Former mayors, longtime locals and a movie star are among those who wrote letters blasting a proposed swimming pool and other amenities on the bluff above Hallam Lake.Their comments are included in the packet of materials compiled for the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission, which will take up the controversial proposal for the first time Tuesday.Jonathan Lewis and Roberto Posada have proposed changes to their back yard, perched on the bluff above Hallam Lake and the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. A swimming pool, to be connected to the North First Street home by an underground tunnel and an enclosed stairway, along with an outdoor fire pit, flagpole and low walls that will function as seating, are proposed.The entire plan is outside of a required 15-foot setback and height limit along the bluff, except a portion of the at-grade deck, according to a memo to the P&Z from Chris Bendon, the city’s community development director.City staffers are recommending approval of the project under a host of conditions, but the idea of a pool and lighted canopy covering the top of a stairwell that would connect the tunnel to the pool have sparked a firestorm of protest.”Hallam Lake is a sanctuary; don’t mar the boundary with a swimming pool,” wrote Bob and Crispen Limacher, calling the project an “eyesore.” “The Hallam Lake nature preserve is a precious community asset and we have a responsibility to protect it,” wrote Gary Pfaffmann, a third-grade teacher at Aspen Community School. “Once we destroy this asset, we can never replace it.”Former County Commissioner James True said the development “appears to be the antithesis of environmentally sensitive development” and has the potential to disrupt the aesthetic qualities of Hallam Lake and ACES.”One of the considerations of owning a property overlooking ACES is that there is a reciprocal relationship to consider,” wrote Barbara Reid. “A neighbor benefits so much from this protected sanctuary that there is an implicit responsibility to protect it as well.””The anything-goes-self-indulgence now so much in evidence means visitors to Hallam Lake will be able to enjoy a glass and steel tower set back about 17 feet from the edge of the bluff surrounding the nature area,” wrote Mick Ireland, a county commissioner.Other letters of objection came from former Mayors Eve Homeyer and John Bennett; Bill Gruenberg, former ACES president; and Sara Garton, former P&Z chairwoman. Current ACES Director Tom Cardamone raised questions about light, noise and the stability of the bluff.Last month, actor Jack Nicholson raised one of the early objections to the project. He owns a neighboring house.”When you consider this application, I urge you to consider what will happen to Hallam Lake when other homeowners in the area construct similar pools, decks, tunnels and observation towers,” he wrote. Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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