Signatures verified for Base2 lodge petition
Aspen’s city clerk said Monday that she has verified the required number of petition signatures to make City Council either repeal its approval of the Base2 lodge proposal or kick it to voters.
Linda Manning said she verified 733 of the names; 617 were required to validate the petition, but the clerk said she wanted the extra buffer in the event that someone contests the integrity of the validated signatures.
Residents have until Aug. 17 to protest the signatures.
“I don’t see any reason why anyone would protest,” Manning said, adding that she rejected about 20 percent of the signatures she inspected.
Barring a protest, Manning would then certify the petition, and City Council would entertain the matter at its meeting scheduled Aug. 24.
Aspen residents Ward Hauenstein and Marcia Goshorn submitted more than 1,300 petition signatures to the City Clerk’s Office on July 9.
Their petition’s purpose is to either force City Council to rescind its ordinance that approved developer Mark Hunt’s Base2 lodging project or refer it to voters. The 37-unit lodge, which Hunt has touted as affordable, would replace the existing Conoco corner service station.
City Council passed the Base2 project June 1, granting it numerous concessions that included allowing it to be twice the size — 15,000 square feet — that zoning allows for that location. They also gave it waivers for setbacks and housing requirements, and Hunt agreed to provide off-site parking at a location to be named later.
Petition organizers and supporters have argued that the City Council had no right to approve the project with the waivers because of the passage of Referendum 1 in the May 5 election. The referendum, which is an amendment to the Home Rule Charter, mandates that the City Council no longer give land-use variances to downtown commercial projects on height, mass, parking, affordable housing and view planes. Development proposals out of scope with city land-use rules would have to go to voters. The City Attorney’s Office, however, has determined that land-use applications submitted before the election aren’t beholden to Referendum 1.
Should the City Council refer the Base2 matter to voters, Hunt has said he isn’t sure if he would campaign for the lodge or shelve the project.
Manning said the Base2 election, if it goes to a vote, would be held in November.
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Alex Rager believes that the search for affordable housing in the Roaring Fork Valley can sometimes boil down to luck and timing. “When you least expect it and when you most need it is when things happen,” she said.