Council objects to Base Village
Aspen Times Staff Writer
For months, the Snowmass Village Town Council has promised residents that their concerns with the proposed size of Base Village would not be ignored.
Monday night, in the first meeting regarding the review of the application submitted by Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Company, the council held true to its promise.
Like dominoes, one councilman after another objected to the height, mass, density and scale of Base Village.
“[I have] a lot of significant concerns about your current application,” Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester told Intrawest officials following their opening presentation. “I think we have some serious issues with some of the larger buildings.”
Councilman Arnie Mordkin said he’s heard “loud and clear” citizens’ concerns with the proposed size of Base Village.
“We are not going to disappoint this community,” echoed Councilman Dick Virtue.
But the council and Michael O’Connor, Intrawest’s vice president of development, both stated their willingness to work together and reach certain compromises.
“I think it’s very important for us to work collectively to find the right size,” Councilman Doug Mercatoris said.
“The mass, scale, height issue is one I’ve heard loud and clear,” O’Connor said. “We’re willing to consider, willing to work through these changes.”
As currently proposed, Base Village would add 635 condos, 10 townhomes, 180 employee units, 184,000 square feet of nonresidential space (including 94,000 square feet of restaurant and retail) and parking for 1,100 cars around the base of Fanny Hill. It would also include 20 homesites in nearby Sinclair Meadows.
With the review process expected to be lengthy – perhaps several months long – O’Connor laid out a proposed order of issues to be discussed. Employee housing, commercial and lodging relationships, and construction management were all part of the list of topics Intrawest laid out for review.
The project’s overall size, however, was last on the list, and the council wanted that changed.
“Height, mass and scale is the largest concern,” said Councilman Bill Boineau. “We need to address these issues up front.”
Manchester said he was concerned it may be a waste of time to proceed without addressing the size issue.
“If we delay mass and scale to the end, it may not be fair to you,” Manchester said to the Intrawest officials.
The council’s adamant attitude regarding the size of the development surprised some members of the public who attended the meeting.
Jeff Tippett, a former Snowmass Village mayor, has been vocally opposed to the size of Base Village from the beginning. He’s also the chairman of Citizens for Responsible Growth (CRG), which has launched an initiative that would demand voter approval whenever the height, size or density of a proposed project exceed certain thresholds.
Tippett and CRG have also been concerned the council was not listening to the public’s concern about the size of Base Village.
“I was a bit surprised they were so outspoken,” Tippett said. “Obviously, I liked what I heard, and, hopefully, I’ll hear them follow through.”
[Steve Benson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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