Letter: No need to bend the rules
Dear Mayor Steve Skadron and Aspen city councilmen and councilwoman,
In reference to changing status of Aspen’s old Powerhouse: I’m hoping that you will understand that this is not just a neighborhood issue but a community one. To move forward with a lease for Aspen’s old Powerhouse with this group would be a grave mistake, since residents do not want a public building and public riparian park space to be leased to three already private, for-profit businesses. The council should honor the legitimate nonprofit organizations.
The public zone district does not allow commercial activities. For the council to even contemplate changing the zone district to a planned development in order to accommodate this group’s proposed lease is wrong and potentially illegal. If such a zoning change would take place, it would undermine the very protection that every neighborhood relies upon. Such an accommodation for incompatible businesses through a planned-development overlay is bending the rules. It sets a terrible precedent. All neighborhoods in Aspen could be at risk.
The council was elected to make wise decisions. Many other, already-existing, good, valid nonprofits exist that would like to lease Aspen’s old Powerhouse. These are not commercial ventures. These others are already established 501(c)3 nonprofits. They do, in fact, benefit the public and are charitable, educational, scientific, literary, etc., and serve the public good. It makes no sense to bend the rules for the David Cook, Spencer McKnight, Duncan Clauss and Gordon Bronson group when as of today, there are those nonprofit finalists that fit within the rules.
Moreover, there is no guarantee that this group will even get its tax-exempt status from the IRS! So why bend the rules? The council should make the right decision now and lease to another legitimate nonprofit that already conforms to the existing code.