In Aspen's narrow valley, cluttered with
enormous homes and virtually devoid of affordable housing, growth
management seems a moot point. However, that is just what Pitkin
County commissioners hope to accomplish with a bold rezoning plan.
The proposed revisions of the county's land-use code would
concentrate growth in already-developed areas and would cap new
rural buildings at a total of 3,000 square feet - a significant
adjustment where many homes are three times larger. The new code
also would expand a largely untested system of tradable development
rights, whereby rural landowners could sell their rights to someone
"The rural landowners should be
discouraged from creating sprawl," says Commissioner Mick Ireland.
"This makes good fiscal sense and preserves character, environment
and open space."
The few ranchers left in the
valley cry foul. They feel they have done the community a service
by keeping their land open instead of succumbing to subdivisions,
and the new code penalizes them. Public meetings have been crowded
with ranchers imploring the commissioners to revise the proposal
and allow rural landowners more flexibility to
"They don't see the land like we do,"
rancher Willie Fender says. "We're not developers, we're ranchers;
flexibility is what ranchers need."
revision has been referred to the county planning and zoning board,
which will make a recommendation to the commissioners by the end of
March. If the code is adopted without significant revision,
ranchers say they may sue.