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Rove would be proud

In his Feb. 25 editorial in the Snowmass Sun, Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester repeated the widespread assertion that Base Village has already been significantly reduced in size and, therefore, the council has responded to the community’s concerns.

According to the mayor: “[M]ore than 50 public hearings … have resulted in a 35 percent reduction in proposed village commercial space and a 25 percent reduction in the total square footage.”

Here’s why this assertion appears wildly off-base:

As usual, you’ll find the devil in the details. On March 3, I obtained from the planning department a comparison chart (apparently prepared by Intrawest) that shows how the project changed from (a) Sketch Plan to (b) Preliminary PUD to (c) its current configuration (termed “Supplemental”). Quick summary:

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– Let’s look at the mayor’s 25 percent total square footage reduction. At Sketch, this was 762,802, reduced in Supplemental to 705,298 ” a total decrease of 7.53 percent. (Figure is net residential plus third-party commercial.) The corresponding decrease from Preliminary to Supplemental is 11.88 percent.

– Now let’s look at the mayor’s 35 percent commercial square footage reduction. At Sketch (what Intrawest originally proposed), this was 63,970 square feet. It then grew during Preliminary ” at the council’s urging ” by 47.06 percent to 94,074. Then, at Supplemental (what Intrawest currently proposes), it shrank by 32.05 percent, back down to 63,927 square feet. That’s only 43 square feet smaller (far less than 1 percent) than Sketch plan!

Let the mayor answer two questions. First, where does he get his 25 percent when the chart indicates 7.53 percent? Second, how does he justify his 35 percent reduction when the chart’s relevant figure is less than 1 percent?

Where the first question probably points to an innocent (though disturbing) confusion between gross square footage and net square footage, the second ” the 35 percent versus 1 percent ” looks like a deft sleight of hand.

The mayor elegantly claims credit for a 35 percent reduction that’s really no reduction at all. Intrawest gets the square footage it wanted in the first place, while the council reduces the project from a fictitious size the applicant didn’t apply for. Karl Rove would be impressed. I certainly am.

Thus, as voters consider Initiative Ordinance 2 on March 16, they should ask themselves whether a 7.53 percent reduction in total square footage and essentially no reduction in commercial square footage indicate that the council has responded to their concerns.

Paul W. Benton

Snowmass Village


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