Aspen goes easy on developers |

Aspen goes easy on developers

The city of Aspen creates land-use policies that promote development, and then they can’t understand why developers take advantage of them. With regard to the recent newspaper article, this same scenario has played out over and over again with regard to historic properties and development in Aspen.

With both the creation of the “historic lot split” and the more recent creation of allowing duplexes on smaller lots if one’s home is historic, they have put these properties squarely in the bull’s-eye of developers and a focus of development opportunities. These policies have also served to destroy historic setting and context. The historic Elisha House and Carriage House located in the 300 block of West Main Street have been separated visually and in ownership from each other. This is not in the interest of maintaining historic setting and context. The small home at the corner of Main and Monarch once owned by Lena Van Loon, that now houses Matsuhisa restaurant, has had its historic gardens, trees and setting destroyed and commercialized. Pioneer Park, perhaps the most regal of historic homes in Aspen’s West End on a full half-block, was submitted for a lot-split and a new home was slated for construction until local residents spearheaded the successful volunteer effort to purchase the adjoining property and retain it as a park. This parcel was then lovingly landscaped through the generosity of Maggie DeWolf. The original Brown/Paepcke house was demolished and the side garden built upon. Now the DeWolf home and gardens on Bleeker will be redeveloped and their setting destroyed, their context consigned to the dustbin of history.

While nothing is stagnant and can’t remain forever the same, the historic lot-splits and duplex possibilities conveyed by city land-use regulations have served to destroy the very settings of these beautiful and historic homes. The city and its community development policies have inflicted many of these situations by prioritizing development over preservation. If the City Council as elected officials and their staff is serious about preserving the historic fabric of Aspen, they would modify these regulations to make them less of a windfall for developers.

Lisa Markalunas