Burlingame charges not based on fact
A recent letter made a slew of inaccurate assessments of Burlingame Village that deserve in-depth answers.The first charge was that, “The proposed size is approximately the size of the ‘permanent’ population of Snowmass Village.” Sorry, not even close. According to the 2000 census the population of Snowmass Village is 1,822. Burlingame is designed to be built in stand-alone phases. There will be 97 residences in phase one of Burlingame, the remaining site will be available for future community need. By comparison, Lazy Glen has 100 homes, Aspen Village 150 and Smuggler 87. These neighborhoods are full of co-workers and friends who make invaluable contributions to Aspen’s vitality, social fabric and economy. The opportunity for one-third as many locals to join our permanent community now will benefit a town that continues to lose year-round working residents. Even with full build out, as the community determines it is needed, Burlingame will only hold about 7/10ths as many households as these three neighborhoods.SHOPPING: Most people enjoy the chance to see familiar faces – friends, neighbors and co-workers – when shopping. Burlingame residents will benefit our remaining moderately priced businesses that need year-round support. Workers living 30 miles away go to their own towns’ happy hours, florists and video rental shops. They don’t come back to support weekend brunch at Poppycock’s or The Red Onion. They attend movies at the Glenwood Mall, not the Isis, Wheeler or Stage Three. Keeping local nightlife, restaurants, services and shops healthy requires having locals around to support them. SCHOOLS: Aspenites approved and pay property taxes to educate our community’s children. To say we built our facilities for 300 out-of-district kids, but not our own, is nonsense. Burlingame kids will receive the same state funding that we get for out-of-district pupils, plus annual property taxes nearing $50,000. We should be concerned for our kids’ home life and allow local families a chance to address their space needs. Burlingame will give current and future teachers a chance to live close to their jobs, 46 of them expressed interest in buying a home at Burlingame in a recent survey. The 1995 and 2000 community plans identified the Burlingame area for housing. There is sufficient water and sewer capacity. Very little has changed since 2000 when 60 percent of Aspen voters advised the city to enter into the preannexation agreement for Burlingame, except that real estate prices in Aspen have continued to skyrocket. The conversion of free-market housing to second homes continues unabated, driving even downvalley homes (long our work force safety value) out of reach. Residential infill is extremely expensive and impacts existing neighborhoods. Commercial infill doesn’t offset the employees generated by redevelopment and doesn’t create the family-style housing that Burlingame will.ROADS: Cutting the daily commute for 97 households from 60 miles to six will eliminate tons of greenhouse emissions. Burlingame will be served with transit, lends itself to carpooling and is a three-mile bike ride to the Hotel Jerome. It is a lot easier to get someone to forgo the comforts of their own car for a 15-minute bus ride home than the hour and a half that an “express” bus takes to Glenwood.LAND USE: Under the current annexation contract for the Burlingame Bar/X Ranch master plan, 190 out of 252 acres will be preserved as open space. The Zoline family will place conservation easements on 80 acres of their ranch. In exchange for a 20-acre housing site, the city will dedicate 110 acres (bought with housing money) to open space. The Zolines will receive 12 new building rights, each requiring an accessory dwelling unit and the extinguishing of 12 Transferable Development Rights to build out. The Zolines will pay $300,000 toward the Burlingame road and share the cost of providing water, sewer and electric infrastructure. From each initial lot sale, the Zolines will pay $16,666 to the city open space fund, and $8,333.33 to the Soldners for a cultural center on their property; further, for the next 50 years, upon lot resales, there will be a payment of $6,666.67 to the city and $3,333,33 to the Soldners.Defaulting on this contract turns loose a variety of new development scenarios under county code, with the city having very little control of the outcomes. The 146-acre Bar/X Ranch is zoned one house every two acres for the most part; it is within the urban growth boundaries and is the very definition of an appropriate site to use up county transferable development rights. Will the county codes protect us? It’s hard to say.Who ever thought that ski runs at Highlands would become building sites for second homes, or that land bought (from the Zoline family, by the way) for sage brush open space along Highway 82 would become the private Maroon Creek Club golf course.Instead of the carefully crafted contracts described above, and the certainty of the preservation of these lands, Aspen may well get a luxury home subdivision that looks a lot like Aspen Glen, with very little housing. Perhaps for some, that is the desired outcome. Nothing stays the same, breaching our contracts won’t “save the farm” and will not accomplish the greater set of community goals that includes both open space preservation and affordable housing for a permanent local working population far into the future.Rachel Richards is an Aspen city councilwoman.
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