After 18 years, can’t we all just get along?
To the Honorable Leaders of Aspen and Pitkin County: planning and zoning, Aspen mayor and City Council, Pitkin County commissioners, directors of community development and staff, in response to the proposal to downzone our property and to the past 18 years.
My heart has been so sad lately ” so sad that in our beautiful world we have such pain ” caused by our own hands and by our choices.
How can we rise above our qualities of greed, unrighteousness, hypocrisy, quarrelsomeness, arrogance and hatred?
Eighteen years ago we became guardians of this land on Smuggler Mountain ” I have held many visions of how this property could be a positive contribution to this community. We always had a place in our hearts for the middle way where both this community and our family would live peaceful lives ” but I feel it was never given a chance.
Something was always very wrong and out of balance. This community, through its government, has made this family into the scapegoat for all of what it saw wrong about the changes of our world ” asking this family to make almost the entire sacrifice for the whole community.
We were not the enemy. I guess my silence has made it easy for you to make us into your enemy. We have never wanted anything more than what was fair and just.
Through 18 years of constant denials of any development, through any means possible by our Pitkin County government and Aspen city government, we have seen hundreds of homes built. But it seemed to be OK, because you had Smuggler Mountain in your grip. So maybe you would be OK, because you had saved this one piece of land all else would be forgiven. If you stood your ground, through your constant abuse of your power at this family ” maybe no one would notice all of the constant changes in growth. They would think you were fighting the good fight ” and it’s better to just destroy one family that does not have the means to fight you anyway.
Why this has gone so far I will never understand. Perhaps so we can all look deeply inside ourselves at all that is ugly and make better choices full of compassion and generosity toward others ” toward each other ” as equal members of our community. I truly do not know what to do anymore.
I have gone hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, having relied on the zoning as the value of this land, with legal bills and deals to sell that have not worked out ” in part because of this government’s constant assault against us ” with the intent to scare away anyone who showed any interest in buying or developing.
We were never your enemy, things should have been much different. So many tax dollars spent on endless plans to take this land without paying for it, even after this community voted to pay taxes to buy Smuggler Mountain.
By the actions of this government and this community such a scar of shame darkens our sweet mountain town. The shame of being incapable of compromise and compassion for one another. What peace can come from walking this beautiful mountain if it has not been put into your hands through righteous actions ” through compromise and fairness.
Please try to imagine if this were your family that had been targeted because of what was yours ” your home, your condo, your land. That the government wanted it and would have it at any cost to your family and they would destroy you to get it.
Government seems to always be the same no matter what party controls ” no matter what you call this it still has no compassion or wisdom.
If we had had the means I would have given this land to the community or perhaps back to the Utes, but now I am in too big of a mess. We are all in a mess, and we must come to a solution ” one that is fair and has much wisdom ” so we do not have any more scars on this beautiful world. Scars of hatred are much worse than scars of the land.
This has been and continues to be very sad for our community and for our elected officials, who I feel truly want to do the very best they can to keep our world sweet and lovely, but there must be good will toward all equally, without greed and arrogance, or nothing can be sweet.
If you take this action of downzoning at this time after we have relied on our zoning to finance so much you will destroy us ” we will be bankrupted and beyond.
I pray you are better than this. I pray you are wiser than this ” that you can find a way that is fair and just to all including my family after so many years.
How can we as a community find peace where there is so much ill will and hatred? Please let us have peace ” let this community have peace.
If you have been blessed with much in your life and have a large home, please give generously to this community and I will do my best if I come out of this whole to do the same.
“May we all do our best to do what is righteous and kind.” – The Middle Way
“If you tighten the string too much, it will snap. If you leave it too slack it won’t play. The path to enlightenment is the middle way between all extremes.” – Buddha
Many blessings to you all.
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“I have spent more than two decades involved in housing issues, most recently as a former APCHA board member. I will always be a recovering CPA (certified public accountant) — my financial and business experience will allow me to hit the ground running and to be a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars,” writes Chris Council.