Pooch prohibition remains at Burlingame

by Dorothy Atkins, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

Dogs will not be allowed at the new phase of Burlingame Ranch because current homeowners in the affordable housing complex do not want them, Aspen City Council members decided on Monday.

Council agreed that Burlingame’s existing homeowner’s association should ultimately determine whether dogs will be allowed in the new phase, and it appears that there is currently no support for it. About 70 percent of the 91 Burlingame homeowners said they did not want the neighborhood to be dog friendly, according to a recent survey, which Stefan Reveal, HOA president, presented at the council’s work session.

A dog ban was originally placed on the first phase of Burlingame, located off of Highway 82 and across from Buttermilk, as part of a pre-annexation deal with neighboring ranch owners before it opened in 2007.

Council discussed allowing dogs for the 48 new Burlingame units that are slated to be built over the next two years due to the lack of dog friendly affordable housing options in Aspen. Of the 57 who have signed up for a unit and have been pre-approved by a bank for a mortgage, 70 percent said they want the units to be dog friendly.

For the pet restriction to be removed on the entire complex, the pre-annexation agreement would have to be changed, as would the declarations and covenants with the existing Burlingame HOA.

At Monday’s meeting, 15 people spoke on the issue with the majority arguing against making the neighborhood dog friendly. Many of those in opposition are current Burlingame homeowners.

Karen Thornely, a Burlingame homeowner whose husband Gyles is on the city’s open space and trails board, argued against allowing dogs. Untrained canines would create hostility between neighbors, and the size of the Burlingame condos aren’t large enough to accommodate dogs, she said.

Burlingame homeowner Inga Lark and her husband Doug Campbell sat side by side arguing that the pets would disturb surrounding wildlife. Lark pointed out that the city’s open space board advised against removing the ban because of the potential long-term impact dogs will have on the wildlife area.

“Unfortunately whatever action taken here will be irreparable,” Lark said.

Tom Cardamone, chief ecologist at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), said dogs would alarm wildlife by barking, potentially transfer diseases around the community, attract coyotes and mountain lions, and generally increase the blood pressure of the community.

Two young couples, both who had reserved a unit at the new phase of Burlingame, spoke in favor of removing the ban.

Nicolle and Shane Allen currently own a dog and they signed up for a unit in the new phase because it was pet friendly.

“I can say with certainty if it is continued to not allow dogs, we would pull our reservation and we would not pursue it again,” Shane Allen said.

It’s difficult to find housing that allows pets because the system lacks the inventory, he said.

Ashley Cantrell Perl, who works for the city, and her husband Dan Perl, agreed that they would likely not pursue living at Burlingame if dogs aren’t allowed. It’s the last available quality housing option in Aspen, Ashley Cantrell Perl said. Without the hope of Burlingame, they will likely look for housing options downvalley and miss out on many benefits that come with living in Pitkin County, she said.

Another couple, who own a single-family home at Burlingame, argued that allowing dogs at the new phase while outlawing them in phase one would be unfair. Jennifer and Tim Carney requested that the city remove the ban so that they could have a pet.

“We’re not OK with phase two having them and not us,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like the process is fair.”

Council agreed that the city shouldn’t impose different standards on the new development, while phase one homeowners purchased their units believing there would be no dogs in the neighborhood.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re not supportive in just allowing dogs in phase two,” Councilman Torre said.

Torre is not in support of removing the dog ban from the pre-annexation agreement because he was originally involved with instituting it, he said.

“I’ll stand by those agreements that I made,” he said.

Councilman Adam Frisch argued that it’s not a wildlife or legal issue, but it’s a question of governance, which should be solved by the HOA. Councilman Derek Johnson suggested that the HOA come up with a hybrid solution that would allow for dogs in the future if homeowners wanted them. Councilman Steve Skadron agreed that the homeowners should decide, but said he did so with a heavy heart because of his love for dogs.

Mayor Mick Ireland suggested that the current HOA meet with prospective buyers to try to come up with a solution that makes everyone happy. It’s not council’s job to impose a solution to the problem because ultimately the two groups of people will be living in the same neighborhood, he said.

“I think you need to look at your neighbor in the eye and say ‘This is why you shouldn’t have a dog,’” Ireland said.

Ireland also warned the current homeowners to be careful in deciding the issue via an HOA vote because as Burlingame is developed, they will eventually be outnumbered by new homeowners, he said.

“Be careful what you ask for, phase one,” Ireland said.