Letter: Gorsuch Haus — The mother of all variances
“We’re not coming with hat in hand seeking variances,” was the quote from Jim DeFrancia about the Gorsuch Haus application which he represents. The only thing that might be accurate in his statement is that he clearly left his hat at home.
The Gorsuch developers are asking for a zoning change from conservation to ski base, moving in one fell swoop from the least density to the most density possible.
Just in case you forgot, ski base zoning was specifically created to annex land from the county to the city for the master planned community of Aspen Highlands — it has no dimensional limitations whatsoever. The idea that a developer would try to exploit the zoning designation created only for the one-off development of Aspen Highlands and then say they are not seeking variances, is beyond misleading. It is also the reason the application is so beyond the pale it is difficult to believe all the details, but there they are, illuminated in the city staff memo.
If the current Gorsuch Haus proposal were seeking lodge zoning, staff has indicated they would be allowed up to 28 feet in height; instead they are demanding 49 feet. Where city staff has indicated that about 36,150 square feet of floor-area ratio might meet the code, they want almost twice that number and 10 times the current conservation zoning allowance. Gorsuch Haus is proposing zero setbacks on all sides. Zero.
With respect to affordable housing, Lift One Lodge’s property, which is directly downslope from the proposed Gorsuch Haus, is mitigating 100 percent of its employee generation, including 16 full-time employees on site. Gorsuch Haus is proposing to accommodate one affordable-housing unit on site and mitigate at 36 percent, rather than the code prescribed 60 percent.
Gorsuch Haus is effectively requesting significant variances, and any attempt to insinuate otherwise is misleading the community.
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