Future raises new concerns for Snowmass Base Village condo owners

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The development agreements for the new Base Village are close to being finalized, but who will pay for the operating expenses as the project moves forward?

Some owners of already-completed Base Village condos are concerned that it will be them. They believe the new plans will have added expenses for the special districts that maintain operations in Base Village, which they pay into but feel they have little representation in.

Base Village Metro Districts No. 1 and No. 2 assess 43.5 mills each, the maximum mill levy they are each authorized by voters to assess. The districts are two separate physical areas all within the boundaries of Base Village, so owners of a single unit would only pay taxes to one, said Craig Monzio, vice president of development for Related Colorado.

The Base Village Master Association is another such district, although it is not a taxing district, so it does not have a cap on the fees its board can elect to assess. Currently those are $3 per square foot of residential property and 75 cents per square foot of commercial property.

Monzio said he doesn’t know yet whether those will increase with the next phase of construction.

“I can’t speculate,” he said in a meeting March 31. “No new obligation will go into effect immediately.”

The Base Village Master Association was designed to maintain public areas in the development. Base Village owners have expressed concern that those expenses will increase dramatically when the new amenities added to the Base Village plans come online.

However, “we’re not imposing anything that was not expected to be there,” Monzio said. Using the snowmelt system as an example, snowmelting paved areas in Base Village was always anticipated, he said.

“If anything, we’re reducing the overall area” of the pavement that needs snowmelt due to changes like the addition of a summer plaza that in the winter will be an ice rink, he said.

The master association board of directors does not hold elections, but anyone with a vested interest in Base Village can apply to join. The current board members are Related’s Monzio, Jim D’Agostino, Leticia Hanke and Dawn Glassberg; resident and unit owner Jack Kennedy; and Aspen Skiing Co.’s David Corbin.

The metro districts share a governing body, which does hold elections unless no more candidates apply, in which case there are open seats, which is what happened this year. That body now consists of Related’s D’Agostino, Hanke, Monzio and Matt Foley; and Skico’s Steve Sewell, Snowmass mountain manager.

Pat Keefer, owner of a unit in Capitol Peak Lodge, lamented this situation at a Town Council meeting April 4.

“None of the board members pay the Metro Dist (sic) taxes, and those that do pay the Metro Dist taxes, like me, are generally not eligible to be a board member because we are not Colorado residents,” she wrote in comments read at the meeting. Colorado residency is required by state law, Monzio said.

“We keep asking questions of the Metro Dist board and keep getting no answers,” Keefer wrote.

Keefer has spoken at nearly every council meeting since Dec. 21, when the Snowmass Village Town Council granted conditional approval to amend plans for Base Village. Keefer also spoke publicly in the months leading up to that date, though, advocating for changes to the parking-management plan for the Base Village garage, most of which were addressed in the final approvals.

But when Keefer and the condominium associations of Capitol Peak and Hayden Lodge came forward with a long list of objections to the plans as approved in January, it was, in a sense, too little too late, said Town Manager Clint Kinney.

“We had more than a year of public hearings,” he said, although he acknowledged that the condo owners have been coming to the town with issues over the taxing structure for years.

But that structure was put in place when Base Village was first approved in 2004. Changing it would be outside the current review process, he said.

“What we’re doing right now is land use,” Kinney said. “They’re talking about governmental structures.”

That’s governing bodies that also are independent and not under town authority, with the exception of the General Improvement District, which the Town Council sets the budget for. This year it will assess 6 mills that go toward expenses like the operation of the Skittles lift between Base Village and the mall.

The Dec. 21 approval rested on the completion of 10 development agreements between the town and Related, which submitted its final versions by the 90-day deadline of March 21. Town staff members are now conducting what could be considered a compliance check, Kinney said, making sure that the policies and directions included in the ordinance passed by the council are carried forth in those agreements.