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Reject nonsustainable development

Dear Editor:The supporters of the council-approved Base Village would have us believe that at build-out, the development will be an economic “boon” for our town. Let’s look at the facts as to how that opinion was arrived at.There have been four economic studies/analyses done in conjunction with the application. If we throw out those done by Intrawest and the mall owners as being special interest “spin,” we are left with two. The work done by Chris La Tourneur, at the request of the Town Council, is suspect for two reasons. First, he was previously an employee of Intrawest. Second, his philosophy of “critical mass” is consistent with that of Intrawest. This fact results in his closely tracking the developers’ numbers, therefore resulting in the same million square feet of development needed in order for the town to be economically viable. The previous council bought this analysis.That leaves us with the study done by Economic Planning Systems, specifically done for the town. Unfortunately, this analysis relies on an assumption based on occupancy rates, and therefore economic return, never achieved by any resort in Colorado. The theory is that Base Village will, in effect, raise the overall occupancy of the Town to 60 percent, on an annual basis. This means a considerable rise in occupancy for existing properties, in addition to those of Base Village.At both sketch and preliminary plan reviews I asked “what guarantees” does our town have that the economic return projected by the developers is going to happen? Both times a representative of Intrawest responded with “none.”It is apparent that our community resort is being asked to sacrifice its character, negating the very reason it is desirable in the eyes of most of our guests and at least half of those who live here. For the sake of long-overdue lift improvements and a children’s center, as well as 600-plus new residential units and an overall million square feet of development, we must ask what is the “net gain” for our town? Sure, the developers continually threaten us with no improvements and the possibility of selling its property. But in balance, what does the town gain as a result of overdevelopment based on “voodoo economics?” In the end, it is obvious that this project is simply a greedy real estate deal that was not required to pay its own way, either through mitigation of impacts or community benefits. The back-room negotiations between the developers’ representatives and the town manager are of little or no real benefit to the town. Just look at Copper Mountain. Intrawest sold the Summit County commissioners a bill of goods, based on occupancy rates and so-called economic gain. When the project didn’t perform, Intrawest then requested more than double the originally approved units, in order to have enough “critical mass” necessary to generate additional revenues. Sounds like the fox chasing its tail, an unending circle of non-sustainable development.Please reject “voodoo economics” and vote No on Base Village! Our mid- to long-term future as a community resort depends on it.Jack HatfieldSnowmass Village


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