Intrawest, Skico appeal permit for Base Village | AspenTimes.com

Intrawest, Skico appeal permit for Base Village

Chad Abraham

The developers of Base Village are appealing a condition the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers imposed in a crucial permit that has already helped delay the $400 million project by a year.Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co., partners in the Snowmass Village development, have appealed the undisclosed condition to a regional division of the Corps of Engineers in California, said Mark Gilfillan, regulatory project manager at the corps’ Grand Junction office.No developer in recent memory in western Colorado has gone so high up the bureaucratic chain of command to appeal a corps decision, he said.Snowmass Village residents in February 2005 narrowly approved Base Village, which will bring about 1 million square feet of development to the Fanny Hill area of the ski resort.The companies announced in September that they would postpone construction of some key buildings for a year. Areas affected by the delay include retail and restaurant space, a conference center, a children’s ski school and condominiums. Some of the condos have already been sold.It isn’t clear whether the developers’ decision to appeal the permit condition will further delay Base Village. Gilfillan wouldn’t discuss what issues the Skico and Intrawest have with the particular condition, other than it involves information related to the water supply for the project.”I’m not sure it’s a public right-to-know [issue] at the moment,” he said. When company officials announced they would postpone construction, they cited numerous issues. Included was the time crunch to get permits right after voters approved the development and before workers broke ground.But Michael O’Connor, Intrawest’s vice president of development, also said at the time that the companies believed the corps had overstepped its authority. The permit in question concerns wetlands, which fall under the corps’ domain.The massive project will likely impact a half-acre of wetlands near Snowmass Creek, which will supply Base Village’s water. Issuance of the permit hinged on stream-flow depletion, O’Connor said at the time. Stream-flow issues are usually not handled in 404 permits, leading the developers to question the corps’ decision-making.But Gilfillan said “there are no [stream] flow conditions or flow restrictions” in the 404 permit. The permit itself has been issued, he said. But the companies haven’t accepted the terms. Instead, the Skico and Intrawest requested an internal appeal at the district level in Sacramento, Calif. They have now moved the appeal up to the South Pacific division of the Corps of Engineers, which encompasses several Western states.”I cannot recall an appealed permit in recent memory in western Colorado” rising so high in the corps, Gilfillan said.He wasn’t sure when the developers made the appeal decision, but he said he thought it came in late November or early December. A corps decision on the appeal could come at the end of January, he said.Efforts to reach O’Connor were not successful Wednesday.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com

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