Stephen Kanipe, the City of Aspen’s Chief Building Official is retiring after working for local government for 30 years.  Kanipe started with the City of Aspen in 1989 as an entry level plans examiner when the building department was shared between the City and County.   Kanipe worked diligently to bring Aspen’s new buildings like The Little Nell into compliance.  He coordinated the plan reviews and inspections on some of Aspen’s largest buildings like the Ritz Carlton, now the St. Regis and the Highlands Base Village.

“It was like being on the Olympics of building departments because we saw things that only big jurisdictions got to see but we were doing it here in our little town. I loved it and I still love it,” Kanipe said.  “Working on Harris Hall, the music tent, the ARC, and some very unique houses have all been great experiences during my career.”

In 1995 Kanipe became the Chief Building Official for the joint City and County building department. He worked to create an atmosphere of collegiality where builders, developers, and building officials worked together to accomplish compliance with the development codes.  At that time Aspen was beginning to see another round of large and complex buildings being planned.  “Everybody took their jobs really seriously before that time, but the complexity of designs and systems that were coming onto the scene in the late 80s and early 90s really ramped up our reviews and inspections.”

During his tenure with the City, Kanipe championed the City’s energy code development, REMP, and worked to improve processes and find ways to handle the demands of the construction and design community to permit and inspect projects.

“The way the building department is running now is one of the things I am most proud of.  It’s well respected in the community. We partner with the design and construction community to get the best product we can.  We respect those that are investing in Aspen,” Kanipe said.

“Under Stephen’s leadership, the City has been at the forefront of building codes of nearly 30 years.  From local amendments to the IBC that end up getting adopted by other communities, to the creation of REMP, Stephen has ensured Aspen and Colorado push the envelope on innovation and energy efficiency,” said Jessica Garrow, City of Aspen Community Development Director.

Over the three decades Kanipe served the City of Aspen and the building community he wrote and reviewed three books on energy code.  Under his leadership the City of Aspen won the Harvard Innovations in Government Award in 2007 for the REMP program, which was used as a model for governments around the country that have replicated the program.   He has spoken around the nation about the REMP program.

“It was just the way we do business,” he said referring to the City’s energy sustainability and code initiatives.  “The programs are typical of what we want other cities to be aware of and we give it all away, that is the great part.”

Kanipe was appointed to the International Energy Conservation Code Development Committee and served five years, including two as chair.  He also helped develop the International Green Construction Code and the Renewable Energy Membership Advisory Council Solar Rating Certification Council Standards.

“I’ve been to a lot of meetings,” he said with a laugh.

Kanipe will be retiring on March 1, 2019.  The City’s search for a new Chief Building Official is underway.  There will be an open house for the community to meet the Chief Building Official candidates on Thursday, January 10 at 3:30pm.  Look for the location to be posted on next week.

Aspen residents who lived within city limits for the entire year of 2018 and who have been registered to vote since at least January 1, 2018 are eligible to apply for a $55 food tax refund, which is now available as an online application.  Applicants are encouraged to apply online to reduce paper use and expedite the administrative process, however paper applications will still be available through this year for residents to print and mail or drop-off.

To qualify for the Food Sales Tax Refund all applicants must:
·         Submit the Food Sales Tax Refund application by the deadline
·         Have resided within the Aspen city limits for the full 2018 year
·         Have been registered to vote in the City of Aspen from 1/1/18-12/31/18
·         Be able to prove residency within Aspen city limits for 2018 and if still living within the City, ensure your current address is the same as your registered voter address.
Residents 65 or older and residents that are legally blind are eligible for additional refund payments.  For persons barred from registering to vote, there are some exceptions to qualify.

The City created Food Sales Tax Refunds as an incentive to encourage voters to support a sales tax referendum.  It was intended to reimburse voters for the approximate amount of sales tax that they would pay annually on grocery purchases due to the imposition of a 1% City sales tax.

Application and more information at:

If you need assistance completing the application please visit the finance window, first floor of City Hall at 130 S. Galena Street.

The deadline for applications is Monday, April 15, 2019 at 5pm.  Late applications will not be accepted.