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Letter: Follow historic preservation laws

Follow historic preservation laws

We are in favor of Modern Historic Preservation. Our Herbert Bayer Bauhaus movement home at 309-311 W. North St., purchased in 1965, was designated Historic Modern more than 20 years ago.

We endorse making the Lundy house, next door to us at 301 N. Lake St., Historic Modern. However, the proposal for granting Historic Modern status to the Lundy house, being presented today for approval of the Historical Preservation Commission, carries a tremendously high price, both for the city of Aspen as well as West End neighbors. The Historic City Officer and staff have recommended the proposal for commission approval to increase their paper roster of Historic Modern sites. Commission approval would enrich the coffers of the developers by increasing the current site coverage, amounting to a footprint on the ground of approximately 1,400 square feet more than the standard allowance, yielding a total square footage of more than 7,000 square feet. That’s more than double the current house.

Developers also are asking for: a piece of city land to be given to them; for a height exemption from the 25-foot limit; major set back variances on all but the north side; $200,000 to be returned to them in application fees; exemption from paying for employee housing; Transferable Development Rights that they can later sell and much more.

Worst of all, the proposal for the addition violates City Ordinance 28 on Historic Modern development. The developers want to build a 15-foot-tall garage, five feet from our common north-south property line. It would run from the back of the existing Lundy home (obscuring one of its most interesting architectural features!), to the alley, effectively blocking our bedroom windows of both morning light and air. They want a variance of the required 10-foot setback, contrary to Ordinance 28, p.29, Variances 2b, which states: ”2 In granting a variance the HPC must make a finding that such a variance enhances or mitigates an adverse impact to the historic significance or architectural character of the historic property, an adjoining designated historic property or historic district.” Granting this variance clearly creates an adverse impact on our historical property, which is illegal under this ordinance. It reduces both our quality of life and the value of our Historic Modern property.

The required alley setback is 10 feet; the developers request an alley setback of 8 inches! This new addition creates a 15-foot solid wall running some 140 feet along the alley, blocking the historic Victorian residence at 525 Second St. Thus, two important West End historically declared residences will be adversely impacted by these plans.

The city of Aspen should be very careful in granting variances from set backs. Setbacks are there for a purpose: to prevent overdevelopment blight. The recommended Lundy proposal sets a terrible precedent for the downgrading of our residential neighborhoods. Approval of this egregious plan encourages developers to find other Aspen residential properties they can exploit.

Neighbors, Historical Preservation Commission and Aspen City Council, please help us preserve Aspen, not destroy it. What price do we have to pay for overdevelopment disguised as Historic Modern designation?

Beate and Martin Block

Aspen


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