P&Z won’t rush through AACP
The Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission won’t be rushing through its review of a new, key planning document.P&Z members told staffers this week to back off on the aggressive schedule that had been proposed for the commission’s review of the updated Aspen Area Community Plan.The planning staff for the city of Aspen and Pitkin County scheduled a special meeting for the P&Z next Tuesday and hoped for a final decision on the revised Aspen Area Community Plan by June 15. But staff and the P&Z decided this week that the P&Z will review the document on June 15 and set its own schedule after that. And the P&Z chairman has reservations about approving the document at all, in its present form.”There’ll be a delay while we study this thing,” said Chairman Peter Martin. “We’re probably going to take a couple of months to go through this.” Martin said the volunteer board couldn’t have been prepared by the 15th.The revision of the AACP kicked off in March 1998. The work of various committees was compiled into a draft earlier this year. The city and county planning and zoning boards are the bodies that must grant final approval to the plan. Though the AACP doesn’t have the weight of law, it is the document which serves as a guide for future development in Aspen and Pitkin County.P&Z member Charlie Tarver said the P&Z will no doubt need more time than originally allotted. “Until we see it, it’s like guessing who’s gonna win the Stanley Cup,” he said. “Once we see it, we’ll probably know how many meetings it will take.”It was six months in the oversight committee,” Tarver added. “We’re the board that actually works with it. We need a little more than three meetings [to study the document].””There’s been a big push to get this thing done and announce a consensus, when there may not be one,” Martin said. “There’s a majority [among P&Z members] that feels that affordable housing needs are not being met [by the AACP].””But most of all,” Martin continued, “we’re not going to be rushed into a planning document that we’re going to use for five years.”Martin said he didn’t feel a real consensus had reached by committees drafting the plan, and that would lead to trouble later. “I’m convinced there is quite a conflict between the growth committee and the housing committee,” he said. Discussions he’s heard, Martin said, indicate the two sides may not be reconcilable.Martin said he believes the community needs more affordable housing, but is being told by staff that the town is “about full.”My concern is it’s an incremental response to a crisis that merits a very aggressive response,” Martin said of housing section of the document.”If it really doesn’t allow you to do what needs to be done, is it a plan?” Martin asked. “If it’s a plan for inaction, it’s not really helpful.”Cindy Houben, the county’s head planner, said her department expected the P&Z to be well briefed on the contents of the plan before the final plan was ready, as two P&Z members served on the AACP oversight committee. But because the plan didn’t come together as quickly as the original version in 1993, that didn’t work out. “They felt they didn’t have anything to take back to the P&Z until the end,” she said.Houben said it was hoped the plan would be approved by the beginning of the new county budget cycle, in time to be used in fiscal planning, but that is not a necessity.Two vacancies on the Planning and Zoning Commission were filled recently, with the addition of alternates Gayle Embrey and Peter Thomas. Embrey is an art therapist and teacher, and Thomas is an attorney. Alternate member Charlie Tarver was made a regular commissioner.
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