Snowmass denies request to speed up Base Village review
The Aspen Times
The Snowmass Village Town Council denied a request Monday that would have accelerated the review of new Base Village plans, a move that some saw as detrimental to the project’s progress but others saw as a necessary precaution.
The Related subsidiary that owns Base Village proposed to waive the sketch-plan step, the first part of the town’s land-use application process when the council considers a project on a conceptual level. Related contended that it wasn’t proposing to change the location, use, mass or scale of the buildings — all things considered in the sketch plan — making the step unnecessary.
“Base Village is really beyond conceptual-design review,” said Craig Monzio, development associate for Related Colorado.
In addition, Community Development Director Julie Ann Woods estimated that the sketch-plan review will add about three months to the council’s review of the application, pushing a final decision back to August. That gives Related the option of delaying construction on the roundabout at the site and the second phase of the Viceroy hotel, which are scheduled to break ground next summer.
Before the council’s discussion, resident Joe Farrell asked the elected officials to encourage the development’s progress, especially because other investors such as Aspen Skiing Co. are getting involved.
“This is a very, very important time to move this project forward,” Farrell said.
Despite saying they wanted to see the project stay on track, the council members also wanted to more fully review certain aspects, primarily a community-purpose facility that the Base Village developer is required to provide. The council voted to allow the expedited process for Skico’s proposed Limelight Snowmass hotel, which was already reviewed substantially last year, but require the rest to start with a sketch plan.
The current Base Village approvals include an aquatic center that fulfills the community-purpose requirement. Related kept the aquatic center in its new plans but is seeking to downsize it and relocate it adjacent to the Limelight site.
At community meetings in summer, many residents questioned whether an aqua center was still the most desirable amenity, given that the town had built a public pool since Base Village was first approved, but they also brainstormed other ideas that could take its place.
Woods said her department was troubled that Related didn’t include any of those ideas in its application.
“Is the community purpose they’re proposing now … going to serve our community well?” Woods said. “That’s really a discussion that’s going to have to happen.”
Councilman Bob Sirkus said that people who attended those meetings came to the conclusion that a pool was more necessary for guests staying in Base Village than for full-time residents.
“I’m struggling with how to get you what you’d like and yet not box us, the town and the community in to the revised pool as a community purpose,” Sirkus said.
Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, said that his company considered the Ice Age Discovery Center, also proposed in the application, to serve a community purpose as well. He also argued that the council and Related would still be able to work out any issues without the sketch-plan step.
“I just sit here thinking to myself, ‘This is nauseating,’” said Councilman Chris Jacobson, who made a motion to allow the expedited process for the Limelight but not the rest. “I think we want to move forward. … I’m not convinced about our ability as the council to protect the town the way that it’s going.”
Mayor Markey Butler said she thought the council should consider continuing the discussion at another meeting. However, when her fellow council members voted in favor of Jacobson’s motion, she followed suit.
The meeting was the first for Butler, Sirkus and Councilman Bill Madsen, all of whom were voted into office Nov. 4. After their swearing-ins, Butler read resolutions of appreciation for outgoing Councilmen Jason Haber and Fred Kucker and Mayor Bill Boineau, who gave an emotional speech thanking a large crowd who had gathered for that part of the meeting. Boineau served a combined 14 years on Town Council, the past six as Snowmass Village’s mayor.
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Many members of the community wrote to laud the former Skico executive and city councilman for his friendship, dedication to family and community-minded spirit over more than two decades in Aspen.