Snowmass meetings must be more than lip service |

Snowmass meetings must be more than lip service

There are ominous signals emanating from Snowmass Village these days. Residents ask for a moratorium on a major development, then threaten a referendum if said development – Base Village – is approved in its current colossal form. Meanwhile, developers shake their heads, insisting that the project isn’t viable if it shrinks.

To some degree, we’ve heard this kind of posturing before as part of land-use approval negotiations. But there are reasons here to be leery.

Base Village, a 1 million-square-foot mini-city proposed by the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest, is designed to revitalize and essentially reinvent Snowmass Village. It’s simply too big and too important to trifle with.

An all-or-nothing referendum, like the one Carbondale just endured on the big-box Marketplace development, is a simplistic, sloppy and unnecessarily painful way to handle such a situation.

We’re encouraged that the Snowmass Village Town Council has established a series of community meetings to hear from the public while Base Village slogs through the formal process. Held during the evenings, when busy residents can find time to attend, these meetings can and should offer a way for the people most affected by this project to have their say.

We remain a bit suspicious, however, that the meetings are more of a political diversion than a legitimate part of the process. It’s no secret that a majority of Town Council members want Base Village to happen; the council has already approved the project conceptually.

So, recognizing that Base Village, in some form, seems bound for approval, we hope the citizen input will indeed be plugged into the Base Village negotiations and not be relegated to some bureaucrat’s shelf.

If everyone comes to the table with open ears and good intentions – elected officials, developers and citizens – this process may just yield a development that raises Snowmass’ profile and pulls the town out of its economic doldrums. We doubt most Snowmass Villagers want to kill Base Village outright; we also doubt the developers want to risk a referendum, and the potential back-to-square-one consequences.

So we urge everyone involved to make the most of these public meetings. They just may be the silver bullet that kills the threat of a referendum.

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