Base Village opponent blasts Skico survey | AspenTimes.com
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Base Village opponent blasts Skico survey

Steve Benson

A recent poll of Snowmass Village residents that indicated more than 60 percent favor Base Village was an attempt by the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest to discourage a referendum, said a former Snowmass Village mayor.Jeff Tippett, chairman of Citizens for Responsible Growth (CRG), said the poll was a scare tactic. “They’re trying to convince opposing groups not to do a referendum,” said Tippett, who’s been opposed to the size of Base Village from the beginning. “They’re trying to scare us out of it or convey there is no hope.” If the project passes a final vote from the Snowmass Village Town Council in late October, a citizens referendum could be launched if approximately 190 signatures can be gathered.Tippett said he knows what questions were asked in the survey and he would not characterize the poll as scientific. “It was message testing,” he said. “It was designed to help [the applicants] structure their advertising campaign. “I object to the [Aspen Times] printing Bill Kane’s synopsis of the survey without the questions, methodology and complete results.” Kane is the Skico’s vice president of planning.Michael O’Connor, Intrawest’s vice president of development, said the poll was created to get a pulse on the community and was not designed to instill fear. “It’s important for people to understand that this has been a four-year process and we want to do the right thing here in Snowmass,” he said. “The only way to gauge how the community feels we’re doing is to do a poll.” Several other non-Base Village-related questions were posed in the survey. The 130 residents polled between Sept. 2-8 were chosen randomly and represent about 10 percent of the registered voters in Snowmass Village. The Skico and Intrawest, which are partners on the project, funded the survey. Base Village would add approximately 640,000 square feet of residential space and 64,000 square feet of commercial space to Snowmass Village, mostly at the base of Fanny Hill. Kane on Saturday said the poll indicated about 65 percent of residents are now in favor of Base Village while 35 percent are opposed. Tippett said he doesn’t know whether those numbers are accurate since the results of the poll have not been officially released. Instead, Tippett has chosen to rely on his own survey to determine whether he will launch a referendum. Last week, Tippett mailed 930 letters to registered voters in Snowmass Village with four specific yes/no questions: Would you sign a referendum? Would you vote against Base Village? Would you participate in a campaign? Would you like to remain anonymous?”We’ll base our decision on the input we get,” he said. “So far, we’re getting a lot of support for a referendum.”Tippett said if he gets 400 people to back a referendum it will give him the “courage and incentive to move forward.” Tippett and CRG launched a citizens initiative in March to challenge the size of Base Village and other large future developments. The initiative was shot down by 64 votes – 443 to 379. Only 822 of the some 1,600 registered voters in Snowmass Village at the time actually voted. “The hard part is getting the people who support you to the polls,” Tippett said. “It takes a lot of energy and effort. A lot has to go into a referendum campaign and I won’t do it unless there are a lot of people who will help.”Intrawest and Skico have already embarked on an anti-referendum campaign, including a full-page spread in the Aspen papers highlighting the additional nightlife it claims Base Village will bring to town.Without the fear of a referendum the ad would not be needed, as the final vote lies in the hands of the Town Council, not the public. As for more nightlife, Tippett said it won’t happen since the applicant went below the town’s code for employee housing. “The only thing that will create dynamics and nightlife is people living in Snowmass,” he said. Employee housing percentages will actually jump from the current 27 percent to about 42 percent under Base Village, but that still falls under the requirements in the town’s code if the large development passes. “We may have cut the percentage based on the Snowmass code but not on historical data of resorts in North America,” Intrawest’s O’Connor said. “We feel we’re in line for where employee housing should be.”We will satisfy a number of employees who truly want to live in the resort and can afford to live in the resort.” Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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