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Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

A few columns ago I asked, as an aside, what the hell happened to the new Aspen Area Community Plan and now I ask it again in more detail: What IS the hold-up?

I went on the website (www.AspenPitkin.com) for clarification but if an explanation is in there I couldn’t find it.

The whole idea of the new Aspen Area Community Plan was to update the year 2000 version by surveying the community in various ways in order to quickly get the new plan up and running, using it as a binding guideline of the community will, with building and land use code changes (a longer process) to follow.

The end result, we hoped, would be that the codes and the plan would be in sync and we would no longer face situations where developers could say, “It meets the code,” and the City Council could respond, “It doesn’t meet the wishes of the AACP.” The two should be the same.

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The city held several AACP meetings at City Hall, where citizens broke up into small groups and were asked to endorse, deny or alter the conclusions reached in the last plan (the update) and to consider new questions that have arisen in the 10-year interim.

A questionnaire was sent out to residents and second-home owners.

Community-wide clicker-vote sessions were held.

All this quantitative data was to be assembled to update the last Aspen Area Community Plan.

In the past, the construction of the AACP involved many committee meetings and coming up with, after considerable infighting, an overall conclusion.

This time, the process was supposed to be sped up. It was objective rather than subjective – a matter of inputting the data and updating the plan and putting some real teeth in it.

That gathering of data took place two years ago, but we still do not have an updated Aspen Area Community Plan and we should all be asking WHY. Where did it bog down? WHY did it bog down? What possible explanation is there for the delay?

It is my understanding that the new plan is not scheduled to be completed until this FALL, and that will be just the beginning of the tedious process of public hearings and getting county and city approval for it.

Luckily we’re in a building lull, but that’s no excuse for falling asleep at the wheel. The City Council could be using this down-time to work on the land use codes, if they only had the plan in hand. We need an updated Community Plan and we need it ASAP.

The Wienerstube lawsuit affirmed the council’s right to rely upon the AACP, even if it was somewhat vague and subjective. The court recognized that no land use code can be written to address every single thing that might come up, and ruled that the AACP reflected the community’s will.

We need the new plan to give council direction on issues such as historic preservation, the hotel projects at Lift 1A and the plans for the Bidwell Building, all of which are in the development hopper.

Whatever committee is responsible for the new AACP, please getteth thee off thine butts and get on with it. Thank you.


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