Ordinance to Extend Residential Development Moratorium Adopted on First Reading

Aspen Daily News

Ordinance to Extend Residential Development Moratorium Adopted on First Reading

Aspen City Council on Tuesday adopted an ordinance, known as Ordinance 8, on first reading that would extend the moratorium on residential development for two additional months.

Ordinance 8 was drafted in response to Ordinance 6 — which the council passed on March 15 after the original Ordinance 27 was ruled unenforceable by a 9th Judicial District judge — to extend the moratorium on certain residential development activities until Aug. 8 of this year. Ordinance 6 is set to expire on June 8. 

According to a memorandum from Community Development Director Phillip Supino, Ordinance 8 is a response to a necessity for more time to complete the work requested by the council for the moratorium period. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff and community capacity, the complexity of the topics and potential responses and the contentiousness of the issues, the memo continues, staff does not feel that the timeline of Ordinance 6 will allow enough time to complete the work to create new regulations, but do believe that an additional two months is all that is needed. 

“The extension, frankly, is necessary. In staff’s estimation, it is necessary to provide us the time needed to deliver on council’s expectations for this process,” Supino said. “We feel very strongly that we have an obligation to this community to run transparent and inclusive processes, and transparency and inclusivity take time.”

Council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance and set a special meeting for the second reading on May 3. The special meeting will include a public hearing in which members of the public will have an opportunity to give feedback on the issue. 

Mayor Torre and other council members said it was unfortunate that the extension was necessary, but agreed that it was important to allow time for the moratorium work to be completed.

“Unfortunately, we’re not going to hit our timeline, and that’s just something that happens in these processes that we take ownership of,” Councilman Skippy Mesirow said. “I recognize that this additional time will have a negative impact or will hurt some members of our community, and that is really unfortunate, but what would be less fortunate would be not to deliver the final results that will benefit everyone in our community.”

Councilwoman Rachel Richards added that starting the moratorium process in December before the holidays was an awkward time to begin these efforts, and that she was not surprised that the city needed a little more time than planned. 

Councilman John Doyle said he was concerned about the possibility of having to extend the moratorium again at a later date. Supino said that he and staff felt confident that the Aug. 8 deadline would be enough time.

Councilman Ward Hauenstein said he would like to see more information about the public outreach efforts that the city has conducted to gain community input on the moratorium. Staff will return to council at a work session on May 9 to update the council members on those efforts, which include a series of open houses, focus groups and online education efforts. 

Ordinance 8 does not affect Ordinance 26, which placed a moratorium on short-term rental permits until Sept. 30 and remains in effect. 

The city will hold two open houses this week to gather public input on the residential development moratorium. The first will take place at City Hall today from 4-6 p.m., and the second will be a pop-up listening session on the pedestrian mall on Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 

By: Megan Webber I  Aspen Daily News I April 27, 2022

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