Rooftop structures violate project approvals, neighbors say
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” City Hall officials plan to investigate claims from citizens that developers violated the Aspen city council’s approvals for a certain project by making changes to design plans after receiving original approval.
The charges surfaced Monday night as neighbors of the old Stage Three Theaters site denounced what they said was a lack of oversight that allowed changes to be made in the project after it received council approval more than two years ago.
The result, the neighbors said, was the addition of what they termed “rooftop housings” for elevator shafts or stairwells that violate the original authorizations.
Jack Johnson, the only current council member serving when the project won approval, said he could not recall details of the long and tempestuous review process. He said, though, that “rooftop access was one of the most contentious aspects.” The approvals were granted to Jeffrey Jones and the Aspen Main Street Properties LP after four meetings before the council.
One of the neighbors told the council that the developer “basically went bankrupt” and that the property is now up for sale.
As one of the neighbors, Gib Smith, read through a lengthy description of the problems he and others claim to have uncovered related to the project, members of the council began to look more and more concerned.
When Smith told the council he believed the city should revoke the approvals and force whoever is in charge of the project to redesign the building, Mayor Mick Ireland seemed receptive to the arguments.
“We can take it from here,” he told Smith, then listened as several other neighbors came forward.
Lindsay Smith, another neighbor, said there have been other instances where projects won approval and changes were made later to the design of rooftop structures without any oversight by elected officials. She specifically mentioned the Dancing Bear and the La Cocina redevelopment.
“I’m convinced that the misrepresentation of rooftop housings has become a pattern of behavior,” she said. “These people know the gaps in our defenses and are walking right through it. This makes a mockery of the whole approval process.”
The neighbors suggested several procedural changes in the city’s review process, and later departmental stops in the issuance of permits, to close those gaps.
City staff had already begun a probe, City Attorney John Worcester said.
“Thanks for bringing this to our attention,” Ireland told the neighbors.
Further information will be brought to the council at a future work session.
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