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Snowmass waits for Skico to fulfill Burnt Mtn. promises

Eight years after the first approvals were given for the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Burnt Mountain expansion, the Skico and Snowmass Village are still working out the details.

The first Burnt Mountain ordinance was passed in 1991, another series of approvals was made in 1994. But so far only one ski trail has been cleared on the 380 or so acres of expanded terrain at Snowmass and both environmental and housing concerns remain outstanding.

Several weeks ago, the town planning staff wrapped up a year-long process of clarifying which conditions are still not met.



The staff is “largely satisfied” with the Skico’s compliance, Town Manager Gary Suiter told the Town Council Monday.

Some outstanding environmental concerns involve erosion and run-off management, but overall, Skico’s response has been “very, very positive,” said John McCarty, the town’s environmental planner.




A larger issue, however, is how to resolve the employee mitigation still not met by the ski company. Initially, the Skico planned to build employee housing at Sinclair Meadows, but neighbors put up a fight, and the plan was eventually abandoned.

Now the Skico is looking to trade its interest at Sinclair Meadows and put housing at the so-called Draw parcel instead. The Draw can accommodate more housing units than Sinclair Meadows, but the new proposal also brings more partners into the mix.

They include: the Snowmass Land Co. and the town as landowners, and Skico and John Sarpa as developers.

“What’s still being assessed is how much employee housing can be built for both the public and private sectors – with the ultimate goal to get as much employee housing as possible for all parties involved,” said Jim Wells, president of the land company. He anticipates submission of a conceptual plan sometime in September.

“It’s difficult to drive the process because we’re only one of the partners in the deal,” said Bill Kane, Skico’s vice president of planning and development. “It may seem we’re moving at a glacial speed, but with all the partners involved there’s not much we can do.”

Early planning indicates the Draw could accommodate 100 units and 54,000 square feet of livable space, as opposed to 30,000 square feet at Sinclair Meadows.

As for what the Burnt Mountain expansion will mean for skiers, much still depends on what happens at Base Village – another development that has long been in the works. But there is discussion of a gondola to serve the ski area.

“We’re going to develop little bit by little bit,” said Doug Mackenzie, general manager of the Snowmass ski area.

“At Burnt Mountain we’re going for a more natural skiing experience, being able to ski in and out of trees and less grooming,” Mackenzie said.


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