P&Z rejects hotel project near base of Ajax | AspenTimes.com

P&Z rejects hotel project near base of Ajax

Janet UrquhartAspen Times Staff Writer

A proposed large, new hotel near the base of Aspen Mountain got a thumbs-down from the citys Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday.The Lodge at Aspen Mountain has been roundly panned by neighbors who complained last night that neither the city nor the developers had adequately responded to their concerns about the hotels size and its impacts.City staffers had recommended the P&Z endorse the conceptual plans for the hotel, but set some conditions to reduce the buildings impact on the adjacent Lift One Condominiums and Juan Street affordable housing.Those conditions were too vague, several neighboring condo owners argued. A majority of the P&Z agreed, hinting theyd like a sixth public hearing on the proposal. But the developers pressed for a vote last night.A motion to recommend approval failed by a 3-1 vote.Even without the P&Zs blessing, the conceptual plans will go to the City Council. Brooke Peterson, a partner with the development team, said the hotel proposal will likely be modified to take the concerns of the neighbors into account before the council begins its review.They should be required to meet with some of the neighbors and at least make an attempt to address some of their concerns, said attorney Richard Allen, representing the Lift One condo owners, who live directly north of the hotel site. All these people in this room have a problem with this project.Why are our comments not valid? said Gailyn Waldron, a Timberidge homeowner, noting the condo complex was not mentioned in conditions of approval the P&Z was contemplating. We demand to be heard. We just essentially will have a 60-foot wall in front of nine of our units.We have heard the neighbors concerns, Peterson said. We have heard for four meetings very clearly what the neighbors want.If the project wins conceptual approval from the City Council, developers must then return with final plans for P&Z and council review.The hotel is slated for about 2.4 acres between South Aspen and South Garmisch streets. Juan Street splits the property. The proposal calls for 76 hotel rooms, 29 units to be sold in fractional shares, four free-market condos, 12 affordable units, underground parking, a restaurant and bar, and other amenities.The developers have also offered to replace the nearby Lift 1A with a new chairlift.If the hotel is built, it is expected to bring additional traffic to the top of South Aspen Street, a steep stretch that is often treacherously slick in the winter.The city explored the potential for installing a snow-melt system in the road, but ultimately decided it would be costly and contradict Aspens environmental ethic, said Scott Woodford, city planner.He suggested the developers come up with a winter maintenance plan that could include increased plowing, different sanding techniques and the possible use of chemical de-icers, which arent used elsewhere in Aspen.[Janet Urquharts e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com]