County questions housing numbers for Base Village | AspenTimes.com

County questions housing numbers for Base Village

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

If the proposed Base Village project was in Pitkin County instead of the town of Snowmass Village, it would cost Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. more to build.

That was the essence of the message that all five Pitkin County commissioners brought to a Snowmass Village Town Council meeting on Monday.

It would cost more because the county would require more employee housing to be built and would require a road impact fee estimated at $3.4 million.

Under Pitkin County’s land-use code, the proposed 683 condos and 100,000 square feet of new commercial space in the project at the base of the Snowmass Ski Area would create a requirement to build housing for between 556 and 693 employees.

And with an employee unit at around 800 square feet, that could mean building as much as 500,000 square feet of new employee housing.

That’s much more than would be required by Snowmass Village’s land-use code, which requires 331,000 square feet of housing to be built for new employees.

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And even that is much more than Intrawest and the Skico are proposing be built to house new employees generated by the Base Village project. The two entities have suggested that 210,000 square feet of housing would be enough.

Jack Hatfield, a Pitkin County commissioner and a resident of Snowmass Village, suggested that the members of the Town Council have “serious discussions with the applicant” about their request to build less housing than the town’s code requires.

Commissioner Mick Ireland also told the town board that the county’s estimates did not include the estimated 260 full-time construction workers that the project will generate over the six years it could be under construction.

And Commissioner Dorothea Farris pointed out that 81 percent of the valley’s construction workers live in Basalt or farther downvalley, while 63 percent of the area’s construction jobs occur in the Aspen area.

The county commissioners also said that the construction traffic on lower Brush Creek Road would damage the road and that could cost the county money.

If the ski area project was in Pitkin County, as the Aspen Highlands village was when it was approved, the county would charge a $3.4 million road impact fee.

And Ireland told the town that in the case of Highlands, the county required the developer to bring Maroon Creek Road below Highlands back to top condition and required that they put up $1 million, which essentially paid for the Maroon Creek roundabout.

For their part, the Snowmass council members mostly listened to the county’s suggestions, although Snowmass Mayor T. Michael Manchester said that of the county’s list of concerns, “there is nothing on here that we are not interested in.”

He also said the town has not yet discussed employee housing with Intrawest and the Skico.

Representatives from the companies at Monday’s meeting let the county’s observations pass without comment.

The town is currently reviewing the Base Village project in its “sketch plan” phase, which is when the council looks at the project on a conceptual level. After sketch plan review, the applicant may be given approval to turn in a more detailed application in the “preliminary” phase of the review process.

Intrawest and the Skico hope to break ground on the project next spring.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]

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