Tying the hands of property owners
October 8, 2009
As the co-owner of the modern house at 301 Lake Ave. (designed by Victor Lundy), I would like to express my dismay at even the notion of forced designation. Our family has ties to Aspen from the 1950s when my mother Anstis first came; we have had the honor of knowing many of the great Aspenites through the years and have loved Aspen for all that time.
The notion of forced designation from a philosophical point of view is so misguided and wrong that it’s hard to believe that it’s even on the table. Since when is it right to force a homeowner into some kind of unwanted contract with the city that lowers the value of his property, creates unwanted restrictions and opens the door for meddlesome public officials who come and go and who all have their own agendas?
Our house is a very specific property and is a good example of why the proposed incentives are ridiculous at best. The siting of a house, its placement on the lot, its scale, is an enormous part of what constitutes good architecture. The house was designed as a studio, its scale appropriate to the lot and to the neighborhood. It was a controversial house then, and I doubt we would be permitted to build it now with this insanity of so called “preservation” fever spreading through the town.
I have seen for the last 30 years these preposterous houses being built as tumors attached to smaller older Victorians. Is that preservation? Filling up an entire lot with a structure adorned with faux Victorian details attached to some poor little house that serves as a mud room? And now, we’re going to preserve every last shack in amber as a knee-jerk reaction to the sins of the last 30 years? And somehow we’re supposed to trust city officials in their wisdom to force us into consulting them with any and every decision we want to make concerning our property?
For anyone who knows our house, how could splitting the lot in two and building a McMansion in front of it somehow be an incentive? That’s the whole point of the house, that it looks out onto a beautiful and natural meadow.
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How does that preserve our house? It doesn’t. What it does is allow us to rape our own property and create another tax stream for the city. If the city really wants to help us preserve our properties, why doesn’t it lower our taxes? Provide us with low-cost options to restore instead of saddling us with more restrictions and requiring endless meetings with bureaucrats not to mention so called “Historic Preservation Contractors” (another opportunity for price gouging).
So obviously I’m writing in support of the “Proactive Voluntary Program.” I think somehow what began as a well-intentioned idea has spun out of control. I’m not against preservation, but forcing property owners in Aspen into historical designation is just plain wrong.