Letter: Don’t let people overdevelop residential properties

Don’t let people overdevelop residential properties

The Aspen city staff has endorsed a plan for an addition to the property at 301 Lake Ave., under the Aspen Modern historic designation, which will set precedents for egregious and disruptive development in the West End. It also will make a mockery of the already generous zoning variances allowed to encourage historic preservation.

The plan is going before the Historic Preservation Committee for a second hearing on July 9 and will be brought before the City Council for approval on July 28. I urge residents of Aspen to object and to protest this proposal by LLC home-flippers that misuses historic designation in order to overdevelop residential property.

Approval of the plan will be detrimental to the character of the West End and to its residents — and detrimental to the spirit of the Aspen Modern program as established by council in 2011. The mid-century modern movement was all about light and space and air — not about blocking out light, space and air for nearby residents. Noted architect Victor Lundy designed his 1972 Lake Avenue home on a lot that opened onto a wild garden — light and air. That will be erased and the view of the original house from Triangle Park will be blocked by the addition.

The plan proposed by the LLC includes 700 square feet of living space in addition to the 500-square-foot bonus given for historic homes (using funny math, they are not counting 220 square feet from the original house). In order to do so, the LLC is requesting variance after variance. Here are a few of them: take a piece of land from the City of Aspen on Lake for the master bedroom (one of the only things that staff wisely objected to); a side setback of 5 feet instead of the zoned 10 feet between neighbors; a rear setback of only 8 inches from the alley for a 15-foot-tall garage.

We all know developers shoot for the moon so that any reduction in their request — no matter how slight — will have the patina of compromise. In this case, a drastic reduction to their variance demands will be needed to comply with the Aspen Historic ordinance, let alone the City of Aspen planning-and-zoning rules.

This LLC has created a Trojan Horse, and the historic preservation staff is opening its welcoming gates. Why? Who knows. One possibility is to cut another notch in their brag belt of getting homes declared historic, despite any costs to the neighborhood.

There needs to be a balance. That’s why city council debated and got public input and finally created the Aspen Modern program with its specific well-defined allowances. Let’s convince the Historic Preservation Committee to honor that balance and not be blackmailed by an LLC that can threaten to tear down a beautiful home if they can’t get their ridiculous zoning variances approved. We need your support. Please speak up.

Elias Davis



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