Letter: In lieu and variances
All too often I read stories in the local papers where developers are getting variances or are paying a fee in lieu of development requirements; affordable-housing units, parking, height limits, lot size limits, etc.
Does Aspen and the valley need more rental beds? Absolutely! More employee housing? Certainly! More parking? You know it — especially if you’re a commuter!
Does midvalley need more commercial development? I’m going to say no on that one for now. The four traffic lights of El Jebel and Basalt (Willits) rival the Buttermilk bottleneck during peak traffic. An additional 400 residences, renting at $1,552 for two bedrooms — so they say — is going to make the traffic much worse. That means more people will continue to move farther down valley and oftentimes ride the bus.
Ace Lane’s Tree Farm project “has offered to pay a fee in lieu of parking for transit parking” (The Aspen Times, June 25, “Basalt presses issues on El Jebel project”).
We can not continue to run workers out of Aspen due to insane rental costs and then overlook affordable housing in the midvalley and parking for those who chose to ride the bus. There is no bus parking around that area after 9 a.m. on a weekday.
If this is the continuing trend, we will need a train and buses will have to be servicing the surrounding areas so people don’t have to drive to the train stop. They could walk a block or two from home and get on a circulator/connector bus that takes them to the train stop.
If this valley is so forward thinking and Aspen has so many ideas and festivals, then we dropped the ball! Even the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus bottlenecks at the S curves!
Wealthy people can pay to build on the most precarious slopes. However, no one will ever buy or build more square footage/acerage of land regardless of what it is used for: parking, affordable housing, commercial space, grazing land, parks, etc.
Regulations and codes are in place for reasons! Allowing developers to continue to skirt them and buy their way out of them is wrong. If you don’t hold your ground, then people will continue to walk all over you and take advantage of the system.
I am not against development. If you build free-market “X”, then you should provide services and housing for those serving the needs of the home purchasers. Build responsibly and not simply for profit!
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