‘We (heart) Aspen’ opposes growth | VailDaily.com

‘We (heart) Aspen’ opposes growth

M. John Fayhee

ASPEN – Almost 50 people, all attired in brand-new “We (heart) Aspen” T-shirts, descended on the Aspen city council chambers Monday night in an effort to get the council to put the skids on what was referred to numerous times as “character-killing” growth that is affecting the resort town. The impromptu gathering, which shared its concerns during the public comments part of Monday night’s city council meeting, was spurred by longtime Aspen resident Les Holst’s letter-to-the-editor in Friday’s Aspen Times.In that letter, titled, “Calling the silent majority,” Holst called for “friends of Aspen” to show up at the meeting. “Just once, come to a council meeting and with your presence let [the council] know that there really are people living here who care about this community. Let them know the Aspen history and historic presence is what drives both the living community and the commercial-tourist presence only.”Holst’s letter was heeded, as more people showed up last night than attended last week’s council meeting that focused on a proposed moratorium on scrape-and-replace residential building projects, which drew considerable opposition from the area’s building community.Public-comment periods at city council meetings usually last only a few minutes. Last night’s lasted almost 90 minutes, as more than a dozen people wearing those aforementioned T-shirts spoke.Holst went first. He called for council members to ask themselves four questions before entertaining any action:• Why am I on city council?• What do I love about Aspen?• Why do tourists come to Aspen?• What do tourists love about Aspen?Holst rhetorically addressed those last three questions himself.”If anyone answers ‘construction cranes,” I’d be surprised,” he said.To enthusiastic acclamation that included several rounds of boisterous applause, Holst, who served 10 years on the Aspen Historic Preservation Committee and five years on the city’s Asset Management Committee, made a set of recommendations to the council, all of which are designed, as he said, to bring Aspen back to the basics that made it such an attractive place to live in the first place.Holst’s proposals included a six-month moratorium on building permits in all historic areas, abolishing ordinances allowing lot splits on historic properties, and a policy calling for no more removal of historic properties from the Historic Inventory.Aspen resident Phil Sterling asked the council to try “to save the heart and soul that defined this funky mountain town before it became a commodity.”James March implored the council to establish a construction ban on Saturdays.”The construction industry is now allowed to assault us six days a week,” March said. “If we cut that back to five days, there would less road rage, because the construction workers would have two days off instead of one. It would be better for those of us who live here and better for those who visit. Most visitors come on weekends, and they don’t come to hear construction noise.”County commissioner Mick Ireland said, “We have lost our way in the calculus of redevelopment. We ask ourselves how much things will cost and how much sales tax projects will generate. We prospered in the past by not defining life totally by market strategies.”Mayor Helen Klanderud admitted that there is a need for a more comprehensive communitywide discussion of growth-related issues. But, she stressed, there were a whole lot of people in the council chambers last week arguing vociferously against the proposed building moratorium.”Those people are your neighbors,” Klanderud said. “And they have different opinions on growth-related matters.”Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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