Gorsuch proposal raises red flags
Dear Aspen City Council,
It seems that the controversy over the Gorsuch Haus proposal is becoming too abstract, as an escalating contest of philosophies: growth or tradition? Improvement or preservation? Private or public use?
These sorts of labels and concepts have their place in public discourse, but they also make people — on both sides — mount their beautiful horses and look down self-righteously on their adversaries, even when those adversaries are their friends and neighbors.
Rather than throw around labels, we might all be better served by focusing upon the merits and demerits of this specific development. It seems to me that the most telling facts are right there in front of us, if we will see them. The project seeks and depends upon a zoning change, from the present conservation zoning, to “ski” zoning. In other words, under the zoning rules now applicable to this land, the project is far too massive and far too tall to be built. The developers seek to apply a special designation, created for the Aspen Highlands project, to a property bordering the core of Aspen; that is almost literally the definition of inappropriate. They seek to place a massive building into an existing ski run.
That’s a sufficient red flag in itself. Before even reaching considerations of traffic congestion, reduced public access, placement of a new lift, and the sightlines from downtown, etc., this call for exemption (not merely variance) from the applicable zoning should tell us how remarkably beyond standards this project would be.
The city’s own planning experts have called for substantial reductions in height and mass of this proposed project. This really should not be a hairsplitting call for the City Council, if you examine the specifics. Aspen, the city we all love, will flourish if each such decision is made with common sense and in good faith; the philosophy will take care of itself.
Larchmont, New York
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