Voters closer to deciding Blue Vic’s fate
Opponents of City Council’s controversial “Blue Vic” decision have filed a petition with the Aspen City Clerk seeking to put the matter to a citywide vote.The council voted last week 3-2 in favor of granting ex-City Councilman Tim Semrau permission to subdivide the property at 202 N. Monarch St., site of a historic blue Victorian home. Semrau’s proposal involves commercial and residential components.The main bone of contention in the ordinance focused on access. The council’s decision mandated that access to the residential portion of Semrau’s subdivision be via a never-used alleyway that in the eyes of the Aspen Community Development Department is platted and available.The alley borders the property of Phil Hodgson, who argued vehemently against opening it. During the public hearing phase of the process, more than 20 people spoke against opening the alley, which will serve just one yet-to-be-built house.Even Semrau said he would be happy to access the residential portion of his subdivision via a sidewalk-cut driveway coming off Bleeker Street.But, in the end, City Council demanded that the building code, which requires alley access for subdivisions, be followed.The actual wording of the citizen’s petition is: “Shall Ordinance No. 2, Series of 2002, which grants subdivision approval for the property located at 202 North Monarch Street, and which approves opening the alley adjacent thereto, be repealed?”The wording does not provide for an alternative to the ordinance.The representatives for the petition were listed as Ruth Harrison and Chris Farson, neither of whom was available for comment Wednesday afternoon.Semrau said last week, upon learning that a petition was likely, said, “God bless democracy. If my neighbors feel that protecting an alley they’ve been using illegally for years is worthy of a vote by the people of Aspen, so be it. I wish them luck.”Semrau’s statement referred to the fact that Hodgson long ago built a brick parking area that extended about 20 feet into the contested alleyway. Several council members also referred to that parking area when rendering their decision.City Clerk Katherine Koch has five days to validate the petition’s language. Petitioners will then have 30 days to gain 561 valid signatures. Koch was out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for comment.
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