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Base Village just right, Snowmass mayor says

Steve Benson
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The size of Base Village no longer appears to be an issue, at least as far as the Snowmass Village Town Council is concerned.

Following a presentation from Intrawest Monday night, which included an unveiling of the revised size of the proposed development, Mayor T. Michael Manchester said he hoped the issue would be put to bed for good.

“I think Base Village in mass, scale and density terms is there,” he said. “And we should stop talking about making changes.”

The changes, which have been discussed in council meetings for months but until last night were not officially released by Intrawest, include a reduction in residential size from 706,271 square feet to 641,371, and a decrease in commercial space from 94,074 square feet to 63,927.

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The council and much of the community have been requesting for months that Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co., who are partners on the project, reduce the size of the development.

In last night’s meeting, Carey Shanks, the town’s economic resources director, presented a report analyzing demand in the resort/community. Citing a variety of studies, Shanks concluded that if built at the revised size, Base Village should be successful. Any further downsizing, he added, would put the development at risk.

The council agreed.

“I think our community’s confused. They think half a project will work,” Councilman Dick Virtue said. “It’s just not feasible to go below that number.”

“We’ve gotten as small as we can and still have it work,” Councilman Doug Mercatoris added.

Jeff Tippett, chairman of Citizens for Responsible Growth, which has launched an initiative ordinance in response to the project’s size, wasn’t impressed by the revisions.

“I’m not buying it. It’s too coincidental that all of the town’s research has come to a conclusion that supports the numbers that the developer has asked for,” he said.

An election on the initiative is slated for March 16. If the initiative passes, Base Village could be killed, and future developments that exceed the height or density by a certain percentage in the town’s land-use code would need voter approval.

Tippett stressed that further downsizing isn’t the issue.

“Even if you assumed that was the size it had to be, we still have a problem with the amount of space we have,” Tippett said.

The size of the community and infrastructure of the roads, he added, would simply not be able to support the size of Base Village.

“It just doesn’t fit,” he said.

As for the initiative and the resulting election, which some have criticized as premature, Tippett said that it’s necessary to ensure the voices of the citizens are heard.

“The developer and the Town Council are right in step,” he said.

[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com]


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