Lum: Try getting on the same page
I never thought I’d see the day that I’d congratulate Dwayne Romero for turning down a development project, but here goes: Thanks, Romero, for denying the Mark Hunt proposal for the horrification of the Johnny McQuire and Domino’s Pizza building on first reading.
I expect this means you’re going to be running for mayor in May on a no-growth platform.
And double thanks to Romero (again) and Ann Mullins for turning down the even worse Hunt proposal for the gas station across from Carl’s Pharmacy.
I don’t think Steve Skadron likes these monstrosities any better than we do, but he feels honor-bound to uphold the tradition of approving everything at first reading to give the developer a chance to see how the wind is blowing before turning the matter over to a public hearing.
My view is that if the wind isn’t blowing at all, the developers should be told to pack up their sails.
Instead, we have a tedious game wherein by the time a nasty project lands in the lap of City Council, it has already been approved by either the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Historic Preservation Commission or Community Development or all of the above.
Then the city goes ahead and approves the thing on first reading, and meanwhile, the project has been snowballing under its own momentum before the City Council and the public have a chance to apply the brakes or get out the hatchet.
It seems counter-productive to me that the appointed members of the various commissions and committees are so often at odds with the public will and at odds with the council — the only ones who were actually elected.
If they were given the opportunity, Community Development would approve a three-ring circus in Wagner Park, complete with elephants. Historic Preservation Commission is not far behind (the Victorian two doors down from me has been chopped to the size of a birdhouse) and the council itself has tripped on its collective tongue more than once (e.g., original lodging ordinance).
If I had a crystal ball I’d guess that the city manager is skating on thin ice because he hired all those people who are actually running the city and the city is running a bit amuck these days and is going completely around the bend with its own plans to triple its office space with a massive project that we won’t get to vote on.
The natives are getting restless. A petition will soon be circulated to approve a referendum requiring public votes on zoning variances. I imagine that residents will flock to sign it — I know I will. It will be cumbersome but it’s a way that we can say enough is enough.
I also imagine (hope) that the May election will be under extreme scrutiny. Think ahead — make your vacation plans with voting in mind so you don’t get caught in the Canyonlands where you can’t receive a mail-in ballot.
Lately, I’ve been wishing for a benevolent dictator or a president with power — where’s Walter Paepcke when you need him?
Su Lum is a longtime local who is ready to say it’s already too late. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.