Who should approve Minturn resort? | AspenTimes.com

Who should approve Minturn resort?

Steve Lynn
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

MINTURN, Colo. ” Liz Campbell thinks that Minturn residents should be able to vote on whether a resort company may build a private ski resort near their homes.

“I would be surprised if a project this big wouldn’t go to a vote,” she said.

Minturn town councilors are expect­ed to vote before their election this April on whether to annex property the Ginn Development Co. owns and plans to develop, but some Minturn resi­dents have said that the town coun­cilors should let residents decide instead.

Ginn wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums and a private ski resort and golf course on and around Battle Mountain, south of Minturn, a small town just southwest of Vail. If town councilors approve the annexation, Ginn could proceed with its plans.

Fred Haslee, a former Minturn town councilman, said councilors should make the decision.

“If that vote goes whichever way it may go and the general public feels it’s an injustice to them as taxpayers, that’s the time for a referendum,” Haslee said. A fraction of Minturn residents regu­larly attend meetings about the devel­opment, and more people come only when they have been able to comment on the project. (Dec. 19 was the last meeting for that, but people can still mail or drop off written comments to Minturn Town Center.) So are Minturn residents knowledge­able enough to make the decision?

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Campbell said that information about the project has been difficult to find. She has asked the town several questions about Ginn’s proposal and has yet to hear from town staffers. “It’s really hard for me to formulate an opinion,” she said.

Attending town council meetings or watching them on television and read­ing the newspaper might not give resi­dents enough information on the pro­posal, Haslee said.

“I’ve gone to [Ginn] and asked specif­ic questions,” he said. “I believe the answers they’ve given me are legitimate and reasonable and the truth.”

In March 2006, Minturn Town Coun­cil candidates said that residents should have the final vote on the mat­ter. Some of the candidates pointed to an RV park proposal that was voted down by residents in 2004 as an exam­ple of the town’s leaders letting resi­dents decide.

“I think citizens should have some say in the decision” on Ginn’s proposal, said Town Councilwoman Shelly Bellm in a 2006 candidate forum she partici­pated in while running for office.

Minturn town councilors have a pol­icy of not discussing the Ginn proposal outside of public meetings.

Nearby Red Cliff residents should be able to vote on Ginn’s proposal, too, said Dave Many, of Red Cliff. Ginn plans to build employee housing on the north edge of Red Cliff. The Red Cliff Board of Trustees wants to annex 1,000 acres of property near its borders, though Ginn is not working with Red Cliff on an annexation proposal.

Minturn town councilors said in a recent meeting they might agree to share revenue generated from Ginn’s proposed resort, but would not let Red Cliff annex any of the property.

“Red Cliff residents should be able to vote on this due to the fact that this is going to impact their lives,” Many said.

Campbell said that town councilors will never really know what residents think about Ginn’s proposal if a vote is not held.

“They can only guess,” she said.