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Your Morning News - January 27th, 2015

Jan 27, 2015

Aspen Approves Molly Gibson Lodge Plans

Aspen City Council approved a proposal to redevelop the Molly Gibson Lodge, last night. That includes building two single-family homes on a vacant lot next door. The plan is to demolish the existing lodge and replace it with a new three-story structure. City Council member Art Daily echoed a general sentiment among officials.

“I think it’s really very important to our community, this reconstruction of the lodge. I like the balance. And the single family homes, I think that they actually fit the context of the neighborhood in which they’re being placed.”

The new lodge will have 68 rooms and one affordable housing unit.

Council members decided to wait until the coming months to review lodging proposals from downtown developer Mark Hunt. Hunt is proposing two affordable hotels, but some council members and residents have raised questions about whether they’re a good idea.

Those decisions Monday night came after a heated debate about how City Concil should respond to a proposed ballot initiative. The locally organized effort would strip power from Council and put it in the hands of voters for development that wouldn’t follow land use code. In response, council members decided to consider making some changes this Spring to Aspen’s land use code.

Aspen in Running for Cash Prize in Energy Efficiency

An Aspen group, including the City of Aspen, is a semi-finalist to win a $5 million award for efforts in energy efficiency. Aspen is competing against 49 other U.S. communities for the prize.

The towns are vying for the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The goal is to achieve the greatest reductions in electricity and natural gas usage in residential and municipal settings. That’s over the next two years.

The City of Aspen is working with Holy Cross Energy, SourceGas and the Community Office for Resource Efficiency. Ryland French is the City’s Utilities Efficiency Specialist. He says Aspen already has a rebate and energy assessment program. To win the prize, additional efforts will roll out.

“To really compete in this program we’re going to have to one, ramp up participation and two, start a few new programs to really reach out to the residential energy users in Aspen and help them save energy in ways that we haven’t in past years.”

The award is aimed at small and medium-sized communities. Two other Colorado cities in the running are Fort Collins and Brighton.

Oil & Gas Spills Add Up, Big in Garfield County

Oil and gas companies were responsible for over 700 spills in Colorado last year and nearly 20% of those accidents were in Garfield County according to a review of public data by the Denver nonprofit, Center for Western Priorities. Greg Zimmerman is Policy Director. He says the spills add more than a million gallons of oil and other chemicals into the environment. A spokesman for the agency that oversees oil and gas development in Colorado says the agency does not endorse or deny the report.

Sick Mountain Lion Put Down in Carbondale

The Carbondale Police Department says it put down a sick mountain lion this past weekend. The department says it received a call that the big cat was lying under the bridge on North Bridge Drive on Saturday afternoon. The Tom Cat was about a year or two old and could only move its head. After contacting the Division of Wildlife, the cat was put down. The mountain lion was not believed to be suffering from a communicable illness. It was mangy, malnourished and had sores over its body. The Carbondale Police say the cat could have been hit by car. The department reminds motorists that if they hit an animal in an accident, they should notify their local police.