Revised AACP to get more revision
For a brief time Tuesday night, it looked as though the revised version of the Aspen Area Community Plan might not get anywhere near adoption this year, and maybe not until 2001.But after considerable haggling over procedural details, philosophical differences and other minutiae, it was decided that the updated plan can be offered up for public scrutiny in about two months.If, that is, it survives a review by local government planning specialists, then another workover by the planning and zoning commissions of Aspen and Pitkin County.The AACP, which since 1993 has been the guiding force behind land-use decisions in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, has been undergoing revisions for more than a year.The revisions process, which has involved work by numerous “focus groups” made up of citizens with support and assistance from local planning staffers, is required every five years to ensure that the plan reflects current thinking in terms of development and growth concerns.A meeting Tuesday night, attended by members of both P&Zs, the City Council and Board of County Commissioners, was originally intended to be the first public hearing on revisions to the plan. But members of the county P&Z, as early as mid-June, had started thinking the plan was not yet ready.Among the “fatal flaws” identified by the county P&Z, said commission chairman Peter Martin, are the way population estimates are calculated, the proposed “cap” of 28,000 for the area’s population and vagueness about exactly where a proposed “community growth boundary” would be drawn. There’s also a general feeling among P&Z members that “there are too many goals; about 54 `action items,’ some of which are inconsistent. We thought it needed the input of professional planners,” Martin said.The county planning group decided it was time to put the entire process on hold, and let the city and county planning staff check over the document to weed out inconsistencies before it went any further.County P&Z member Charlie Tarver likened the process to a mountaineer who has reached the summit of a peak, dug a snow pit, and discovered the snow is not safe enough for him to ski down.Regardless of the hard work it took to get to that point in the process, Tarver told the assembled appointed and elected officials, “If it’s the wrong thing to do, it’s the wrong thing to do.”The county P&Z members found considerable agreement with their assessment: The plan contains too many conflicting goals and ideas to be an effective planning tool, and an exact “land-use map” has not yet been drawn up for public examination.But there also was considerable resistance to the suggestion that it would be acceptable if the delay was as long as six months or a year, and to the idea that the plan is not specific enough.In the end, it was agreed that the city and county planning staffs should go to work analyzing the plan for inconsistencies, internal conflict and unsound planning, with the help of the city and county P&Z commission members.Then, in about two months, the document should again be examined by the two planning commissions, before being submitted for a public hearing.
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The city of Aspen’s office building is exempt from paying encroachment fees, yet private developers have to now pay $9 a square foot, per month, starting in 2020.