Referendum in works opposing Galena and Main building
Local activist Toni Kronberg is preparing to ask voters again to shoot down plans for a building at the corner of Galena and Main streets.Kronberg said Thursday she plans to submit a referendum to the city clerk’s office that will seek to repeal the approval of the project last month by the Aspen City Council. The clerk then issues the petition.If Kronberg successfully forces the matter to a ballot, voters may head to the polls with a sense of déjà vu. Last year, opponents of a proposed visitor center building on that corner circulated a referendum that put a rezoning for the project on the November ballot. Voters rejected the rezoning – and hence, the visitor center building – by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.Property owners Lowell Meyer and Gary Freedman returned with plans to construct essentially the same building on the corner, but without the visitor center and Aspen Chamber Resort Association offices that were part of the former proposal. It required no rezoning; the council approved the plan on a 3-1 vote.With only a couple of weeks to collect the signatures of 517 registered voters, Kronberg said she’s recruiting circulators and hopes to hit the streets with the petition early next week. The signed petition must be submitted to the city clerk by June 28 – within 30 days after publication of the ordinance the council adopted to approve the project.”If there’s not enough community support for it, so be it,” she said.The co-sponsor of the referendum will be June Kirkwood, Kronberg said.”This is not an attempt to deny them their property rights,” Kronberg said Thursday.Instead, she said, she hopes to buy time for a public and/or private effort to purchase the property for its redeveloped value so the parcel can be left alone.She objects to the planned taller building there because it will shield views of the historic Pitkin County Courthouse for those approaching from the west on Main Street and, she said, compromise Galena Street as a pedestrian thoroughfare. And Kronberg remains opposed to filling in a small square of grass at the corner, which contains three trees and a row of lilac bushes.The latest plans for the site call for a three-story building as viewed from the Main Street facade, with commercial space on the ground floor, three affordable rental units on the second floor and a free-market residence on the third floor. A fourth level is below ground from the Main Street facade but opens to a sunken rear courtyard. The building will be added to the existing two-story structure on the property, which appears as one story from Main Street.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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