Blumenthal: Newly elected should learn from history | AspenTimes.com

Blumenthal: Newly elected should learn from history

Mel Blumenthal
Second View

Mel Blumenthal

As I sit here in Santa Monica on a post-Halloween rainy Saturday morning unable for obvious reasons to play or ride on the beach, my thoughts are focused on our little drainage in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. Since my all-seeing, all-knowing crystal ball is in the shop for some much-needed repairs, I'm unable to know for sure the outcome of our local election but fortunately for all of you that won't stop me from giving a bit of advice to the lucky winners and some comments on other issues in the village.

As the winners and losers arise the morning after the election with either good cheer or sadness in their hearts and minds, I'd like to congratulate all of them for what appears to have been pretty clean, respectable campaigns. Oh I know a few unkind barbs were thrown out at some of the local candidate gatherings, but I'm sure they weren't meant to sting forever and that both winners and losers, as well as friends and neighbors will now join hands and forget any unpleasantness that may have poked its head up during the campaign … on second thought, a few are unlikely to ever let the past pass, but hopefully they'll be forgiven and soon forgotten as the days of winter quickly approach.

The new mayor and Town Council have a tough job ahead and hopefully, as opposed to the outgoing mix of elected representatives, the new mix will find a way to work together collegially and show openness and respect for one another's opinions as well as the input from members of the community.

The new council should quickly seek expert advice and assistance in order to get up to speed on all the technical details and legal regulations involved in setting policy and in their quasi-judicial roles. The remnants of sloppiness in this area by some members of the exiting council will linger with us for a while and likely cause the community to expend public funds to defend their poor judgment and quite possibly cause further delays in reviewing the plans for and completing Base Village.

Due to the prior mayor's and some council members' actions during recent quasi-judicial proceedings and their lack of respect and responsiveness to a member of our community, we're now facing a legal action in Pitkin County District Court that if found to be meritorious would not only overturn the recent decision to extend Related's vested development rights but also declare such development rights were extinguished due to the town's lack of written consent to transfer such rights. This likely would set back the completion of Base Village for some time until it's all sorted out.

I've read Dr. Richard Goodwin's legal complaint, which was filed in District Court last week by his legal counsel based in Avon, Colo. The allegations against the town and Town Council are quite specific and clearly set out. If the allegations are proven to be true, we're in for a very bumpy ride. Most of the allegations were familiar since Dr. Goodwin had reiterated them at several council meetings as well as in written communications to the town from him and his prior attorney.

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What makes this legal action more than just an idle threat is that many of the allegations in the legal complaint appear to have merit, and equally important, Dr. Goodwin has both the resources and tenacity to pursue this action to its conclusion. One would think if our elected representatives had properly considered and responded to the issues brought forward by Dr. Goodwin and his attorney, the town could have avoided the legal morass it now finds itself in.

The lessons learned here along with some new responsible faces on Town Council whose egos and tempers hopefully will be held in check will reduce the future possibility of once again finding ourselves in this difficult and compromised position.

Related has filed its application for a major amendment of the Base Village planned-unit development covering completion of a good portion of the remaining unfinished buildings in Base Village. An application for a major amendment normally requires several mandated steps in the review process, which often are time consuming and expensive for the developer. Related is asking for relief from its obligations to comply with the initial sketch-plan phase of the review.

That may be acceptable with respect to Aspen Skiing Co.'s Limelight Hotel project since it was previously reviewed and basically approved prior to Skico pulling that application. But clearly the same cannot be said for the new private residence club being proposed by Sunrise Co. and Oaktree Capital, or the aqua center, which was originally approved as a community benefit and now appears to be an amenity for the Limelight Hotel, as well as the total redesign of Buildings 10A and B, which were originally approved as free-market residential units.

In our anxiousness and haste to complete Base Village, let's be careful how and what we approve and make sure that it meets the criteria for creating a sustainable resort component that will enhance our economic viability and our resort and community lifestyle.

Your comments are welcome at secondview@earthlink.net.

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