P&Z approves to Skico employee housing
The Aspen Skiing Co. made more concessions Tuesday in its effort to accommodate up to a dozen more employees at Holiday House.The Planning and Zoning Commission gave a unanimous nod of approval to a new employee housing project with 23,625 square feet of floor area. But it wasn’t without controversy, and it’s only a preliminary recommendation.The Skico wants to rebuild the current 35-unit, 64-bed structure at 127 W. Hopkins Ave. In August, it proposed an 84-bed building, but after neighbors’ opposition in October, it reduced the bed total to 78. After more resistance, it proposed the current 25-unit, 74-bedroom project. The building would replace run-down, substandard living quarters, said David Corbin, the Skico’s vice president of planning.After listening to neighbors’ concerns about Holiday House residents ruining the quiet atmosphere and stressing an already difficult parking situation, the commission added more limitations before recommending the project to City Council. The commission is an advisory board, meaning its recommendations are not binding.At the meeting, the Skico agreed to restrict employees who live at Holiday House from applying for neighborhood parking permits and try to assign employees who don’t have cars to the building. Its proposal offers only 19 parking spaces, instead of a required 25 based on the number of units.The commission also recommended the Skico stick to the zoning requirement of a 23,625-square-foot floor area, rather than the extra 1,165 extra square feet the Skico requested. It let the Skico slide on two architectural variances regarding residential character.Rhonda Bazil said neighbors have had problems with employees who fill the current 64 beds and they don’t want to see 10 or 12 additional employees living there.”We want appropriate affordable housing, but 74 transient kids living in our neighborhood will destroy the quiet of the neighborhood,” resident Phyllis Bronson said. “They’re just trying to cram everyone they can into our little neighborhood, and we object to that. It is not our fault that the Skico hasn’t been prepared for their housing crisis, and it is not our responsibility to solve their problem by destroying our neighborhood.”Corbin doesn’t see a problem with the additional bedrooms.”If it is just 10 people, we don’t see that as a particularly character-changing number of residents in the community,” he said.Still, Bazil recommended that the commission stick to the zoning requirement, which Corbin said would be the equivalent of losing four bedrooms.But Corbin told the commission that if the Skico had to abide by the zoning regulation and chop off 1,165 square feet, about three-quarters of it would come off storage space in the basement. In the end, it wouldn’t significantly impact the number of bedrooms.”We could bring a [new] model in here, and I would probably defy you to spot the change that occurred,” Corbin said.The Skico views Holiday House as its only current opportunity to increase the number of employees it can house in town.”The frustration is with the immediate neighbors and the commission and their scope and not looking at this in the broader context of the need in the community,” said Phillip Ring, project manager.The project will go to City Council for approval, then return to the Planning and Zoning Commission, then return to City Council for final approval before the Skico can start the project.”We absolutely have to [build],” Corbin said. “The physical life of the building has reached its endpoint. It is not habitable today. It is worth it in that we have no alternative. We have to improve the bed base for the employees.”Kimberly Nicoletti’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.