Sunlight plans headed to Garfield County commissioners |

Sunlight plans headed to Garfield County commissioners

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A development team for a base village at Sunlight Mountain Resort plans to press on to the Garfield County commission despite multiple recommendations to deny the proposal.

To succeed, the team must overcome the collective thumbs down from the county Planning Commission, county staff and Glenwood Springs City Council.

County building and planning director Fred Jarman said he heard from the development team late last week that it intended to go forward to county commissioners despite the unfavorable recommendations. The matter may come up at the Jan. 19 meeting.

“They would like to continue on even though they have a recommendation by staff and a unanimous recommendation by the Planning Commission for denial,” he said.

He said he couldn’t guess as to how the county commissioners would vote, but he called the Planning Commission’s unanimous vote on Nov. 12 to recommend denying the proposal “a strong message” to the commissioners.

Mike Dooley, operations manager of Florida-based Exquisite Development, couldn’t be reached Tuesday. Dooley is playing a lead role on the development team.

The plan includes 830 residential units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space near the resort’s base. The lengthy list of concerns about the development include inadequate road and traffic conditions on Four Mile Road leading to the resort, a lack of affordable housing, numerous requests for zoning variances and fears that the development could house more than 3,500 people and would be too far from urban services like fire and police protection.

Sunlight and the developers say the real estate would fund on-mountain improvements like new lifts, more terrain, a mountain-top restaurant and more snowmaking. Sunlight has said it can’t survive without the development, and the resort has lost nearly $1 million operating over the last 11 years. But county staff and others have worried that on-mountain development might slip through the cracks since it is not required in a planned unit development application.

Construction could take 15 years and the redeveloped area would employ around 750 people compared to Sunlight’s current 160 mostly part-time employees.

The resort entered into a contract in late 2006 for sale to Exquisite Development. The deal is contingent upon winning county approvals for development. The amount is confidential, but the resort went up for sale at a $50 million asking price.

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