S’mass voters to decide on land-use initiative | AspenTimes.com

S’mass voters to decide on land-use initiative

An initiative ordinance submitted last month by Citizens for Responsible Growth that could change the land-use code in Snowmass Village and severely hamper plans for Base Village will be put to a public vote March 16.

The Snowmass Village Town Council voted unanimously Monday night not to accept the conditions set forth in the initiative, a decision that automatically turns the issue over to an election.

If the initiative passes, all developments that exceed the height or density by a certain percentage in the town’s land-use code would need voter approval.

In brief, the initiative limitations are: No part of any building shall exceed 160 percent of established height limits, the number of residential units or commercial density in a project shall not exceed 115 percent of the density allocated to the site under the town’s comprehensive plan, and proposed buildings shall not exceed established height limits over more than 50 percent of the area of their footprint.

The proposed size of Base Village exceeds all of those limitations.

Jeff Tippett, chairman of Citizens for Responsible Growth, said the initiative was created as a direct response to the size of Base Village and how the council has handled the application.

“It’s not our intention to create headaches or throw a monkey wrench into the workings of the government,” he said. “We represent a large group of people who are frustrated and unheard by the Town Council.”

Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester said the initiative was totally inappropriate.

“I disagree with the initiative in principle,” he said following the meeting. “What they’re requesting is wrong, it’s inconsistent with the [comprehensive] plan, and it will virtually guarantee we don’t move forward with anything [in the town].”

But Tippett stressed the initiative has a lifespan of a minimum of one year and can be rescinded by the Town Council in a simple majority vote any time after a year. The initiative, he added, is not designed to affect all future developments and can be easily reversed.

“It’s inappropriate to consider land-use change under the premise you would abandon it in one year,” Manchester countered. “This is a huge decision for the future of our village ” people need to really consider what it means.”

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com]

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