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Examining past decisions

I would like to thank Toni Kronberg for bringing attention to my Planning and Zoning Commission record in her recent guest opinion (“Residency requirements and the runoff election,” May 30). It’s one that I’m proud of.When I started on P&Z four years ago, I knew very little about land use codes, PUDs, FAR, or the Aspen Area Community Plan. I was just a guy looking to get involved.Land-use decisions are complex – applications are hundreds of pages, and there’s passionate, sometimes heated debate by friends and neighbors on both sides of the issue. I’d say it takes about two years of preparation for a citizen with a nontechnical background, like myself, to perform adequately in the public’s best interest. That’s all I’ve ever hoped to do.Like anyone in public service, my record deserves scrutiny and sometimes criticism. Had I been more seasoned in the land-use process I wouldn’t have supported some applications that I did – like the Limelight project – without written assurances of the community benefits promised by the developers.I’m excited that a longtime local family like the Paases will steward the Limelight, and that it may result in a hotel with “moderate prices.” However, in hindsight, I could have done better guaranteeing that it would remain moderately priced, asking for smaller rooms, and limiting the size of the free market component. I’ve sought those written guarantees in recent applications.Toni wrongly suggests that I’ve supported all development applications. I haven’t. But sometimes “no” isn’t an option. Jonathan Lewis’ pool and the Blue Vic lot split were two of those cases. I didn’t like the proposals, nor did I think they were appropriate or necessary. But the fact was this: the applicants had the right to do it. P&Z can’t say no just because “we don’t like it.” Decisions to support or deny must be tied to specific criteria. These decision were. All my decisions are.In some cases we all benefit from development. That’s why I supported the Snyder affordable housing project permitting locals to convert basement storage into livable space. And the Shadow Mountain affordable housing project allowing for quality homes in town. And the Weinerstube project, a development in the core, with an abundance of second-floor, mountainside affordable housing. And the Skico’s Holiday House project, because a home in town, on the bus line, is exactly where our work force should live.What’s more is that I said no to the redevelopment of the Aspen Club because it was the wrong application. And no to Stage 3 because it didn’t guarantee locally serving businesses. And no to the Sky Hotel because the community didn’t get more hot beds. And no to Cooper Street Pier and La Cocina because they couldn’t promise to restore the vitality they were taking.I understand a councilperson doesn’t control his or her own agenda. And while an appointment means dealing with the community’s big concerns, like building heights and community character, it also means dealing with countless other issues like budgets, financial management, wastewater, open space, city staff and community members thinking differently about things you do. It also means constructing effective arguments and presenting yourself in public sincerely, with trust and without bias, as I’ve done on P&Z for four years, and do in my career daily.Professionalism and solid character count. Take nothing for granted. Please vote Skadron June 5.Steve Skadron is a candidate for Aspen City Council in the June 5 runoff election, against Toni Kronberg.


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