Voters endorse Burlingame
Just as they did nearly five years ago, Aspen voters endorsed the Burlingame Ranch worker housing project by roughly an 18 percent margin Tuesday.The controversial housing project won the nod from 1,350 voters; 939 ballots were cast against it. Actually, voters approved the annexation of the Bar/X Ranch, but it was a de facto vote to proceed with a development on the outskirts of Aspen that has sharply divided the community.A handful of the project’s most ardent opponents were conceding defeat Tuesday night, and Mayor Helen Klanderud, newly elected to a third term, was calling for a community meeting to help heal the wounds.Meanwhile, Burlingame supporters are hoping the project can now move forward with construction of the first 97 homes this year. In all, Burlingame could provide up to 236 units of employee housing on a site north of the Maroon Creek Club.”There’s a very uncomfortable tension and division in the community right now,” Klanderud said, calling for a town meeting of sorts to discuss Burlingame and the city’s affordable housing program in general.Councilwoman Rachel Richards, who spent the last few days going door to door in support of Burlingame, said residents see the need for the housing, even if they have qualms about the project.”I think the underlying need … of affordable housing in our future prevailed,” she said.That was certainly the sentiment expressed by Kathleen Milbrath after she cast her vote for the project yesterday.”I do think it’s sort of sprawl,” she said. “If that’s what we have to do to keep young people in the community, then that’s what we have to do.””I’d like to put down roots and know I’m going to stay,” said City Councilman Torre, a 35-year-old who lives in rental housing.Still unclear is the need for yet another question on the Bar/X annexation. A referendum circulated by Councilman Terry Paulson and resident Toni Kronberg could theoretically force another vote on the same issue this summer.Kronberg said last night she’d probably be willing to drop the matter, given the margin of support for the project in yesterday’s vote, but Paulson wasn’t so sure. There may be no legal means of withdrawing the referendum, he said.Paulson declined to comment on whether the community needs to vote again, regardless of the legal issue, saying he wants to consult with fellow Burlingame opponents Dwight Shellman and Joe Edwards first.”We got the question on the ballot … I think we got the answer,” Shellman said last night. “There’s really no point in doing it again as far as I’m concerned.”Shellman, a former Pitkin County commissioner who vowed to fight Burlingame after Aspenites endorsed it in an advisory vote in August 2000, said he is giving up the battle.”I think the community has chosen and that’s fine,” he said.Asked if the voting on Burlingame is now finished, Klanderud said, “I hope so. I sincerely hope so.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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