When democracy fails … | AspenTimes.com

When democracy fails …

At the close of the March 1 Town Council meeting, the mayor, reading from a prepared statement, announced his satisfaction with the size, height, and mass of Base Village as proposed by the developer. He said, “I for one am comfortable we’re where we need to be.” Each council member followed in turn affirming his agreement.

That conclusion was reached before the meeting (a public relations consultant employed by the developer had printed copies for members of the press). The mayor did not have the benefit of the demand analysis presentation from staff and had not heard the presentation of the “supplemental information” by the developer. Because the decision had been made before the meeting, he had no way of knowing the answers to the many questions the council and the public asked the developer during the session.

This decision was made without benefit of staff recommendation or analysis. Did the mayor make his decision believing, as he has repeatedly asserted, that the project has been reduced in size by 25 percent? Did he know that during the session, the developer would show square footage figures that would prove that the submission has only been reduced by 7.53 percent? The final “supplemental information” had only been provided to town staff at the close of the previous week. It was not available to the public so no informed public comment could be or was made.

The council has yet to review the developer’s proposal for addressing the impacts of traffic, parking, construction and other important matters. It is still possible that some of these impacts cannot be mitigated and should result in a size reduction.

Why was the council so eager to announce their satisfaction with the size of Base Village? Was their unanimity a pure coincidence? Has the council lost its bargaining power on as yet unaddressed issues? Did the council violate ethical standards by announcing their intentions before the review is completed? Has the review of Base Village been unbiased, fair and proper? Has the outcome of this “review” ever been in doubt?

The Town Council failed to listen to the public at the first two community forums.

Instead of empowering the citizens to participate in formation of the most important decision in the history of Snowmass Village, in the third and final forum, the mayor presented “Guiding Principles for Base Village” which coincidentally closely resembled the developer’s original submission. Representative democracy has failed the citizens of Snowmass Village. Only direct democracy (a public election) can begin to resolve the controversy.

On March 16, vote “yes” on Initiative Ordinance No. 2 for a smaller base village.

Jeff Tippett


Citizens for Responsible Growth

Snowmass Village