Snowmass Town Council recap: Mask mandate extended; Fanny Hill, Snowmass Inn get go-ahead; Snowmass Center passes first reading
The night before an election that would determine a new mayor and two new council members for the town of Snowmass Village, Town Council had a lot of ground to cover.
In a two-and-a-half-hour meeting held virtually while Town Hall was set up as a polling place, council moved swiftly through a packed agenda Nov. 2 to approve an extended mask mandate, a new budget, financing for the Snowmass Inn, and slight modifications to the Fanny Hill development project.
As previously reported, the first reading of the Snowmass Center redevelopment plan also was unanimously approved, following nearly an hour of council discussion.
Council unanimously approved a resolution adopting the town’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year, with no significant changes from the budget as reviewed Oct. 15.
The town has long maintained a fiscally conservative approach to expenditures, as previously reported; with the anticipation that sales tax and lodging tax revenue will be down in 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis, the budget gives the town flexibility in the event of changing economic conditions.
MASK ORDINANCE EXTENDED INTO APRIL
Council unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance extending the mask mandate in Snowmass Village and establishing a new mandatory face covering zone at Snowmass Ski Area. The mask mandate, previously set to sunset Nov. 10, will now last through April 20.
The changes come in anticipation of increased visitation during the winter months and rising COVID-19 case numbers in Pitkin County. The county is currently at level 3: concern, but higher incidence rates suggest a trend toward level 3: “high risk” status, according to the state’s coronameter.
“Unfortunately, our numbers are not good,” Mayor Markey Butler said during the council meeting.
In addition to current mandatory mask zones at the Snowmass Mall, Snowmass Center and Base Village, the ordinance includes ski season-ready guidance for face coverings at Snowmass Ski Area. Face coverings will be required in all outdoor, public areas of the ski area — including terrain parks, lift lines and other common outdoor spaces — and in all indoor areas of the resort.
The mandate includes all land within ski area boundaries, from Two Creeks Cafe at the mountain’s eastern boundary to the base of the Campground lift on the western border.
Masks will not be required, however, when riding a lift alone, with members of the same household, or when at least 6 feet apart on the chair. Skiers, snowboarders and hikers also can remain mask-free when they are able to maintain a 6-foot distance from other people on the mountain.
Enforcement will remain the same: a $50 fine for first offenses, $100 for second offenses, and summons to court on any subsequent offences.
SNOWMASS INN FUNDING OK’d
In a major step forward for the preservation and development of workforce housing options in Snowmass Village, council unanimously approved an ordinance that authorizes financing for the purchase of the Snowmass Inn.
The second-reading approval sets the wheels in motion for the town to complete the purchase of the Inn, which can currently provide accommodations for as many as 78 employees of local businesses each season. The ordinance includes provisions for $6 million in financing, to be paid over the next 20 years at current interest rates through Zion Bank.
The agreement with Zion Bank “produced the best terms in the short and long run for the town,” said Housing Director Betsy Crum.
The sale of the Inn will close in December, but there will be no changes to current operations for the 2020-21 winter season, according to Crum.
Current rent is $1,500 per month at the Inn’s 39 hotel-style rooms; each unit can be subleased to two tenants paying $750 each. Utilities and weekly housekeeping are covered in the rent, but the rooms lack kitchens for tenants to cook in.
An additional $1 million is included in the ordinance for renovations, paid from the Town’s Housing Reserves. Moderate renovations will be planned to bring the rooms to the town’s current housing standards.
“I am really looking forward to the opportunity presented by the Snowmass Inn to preserve the site as an affordable housing option that is nearly slope-side,” Crum wrote in an email Nov. 3.
FANNY HILL MODIFICATIONS APPROVED
Council review of minor Planned Use District changes for the Fanny Hill housing development continued Nov. 2; the second reading of the ordinance was approved unanimously.
There were several changes to the ordinance following first reading approval Oct. 19; as reflected in town documents, those revisions were largely related to language clarifications and did not significantly impact the plan. Updates to ordinance language addressed most of council’s concerns, including further detail on headlight glare mitigation efforts that had been discussed at first reading.
After additional clarifications on language from Ellen McCready, a project manager for developer East West Partners, the ordinance got the green light to move forward.
A resolution proposing signage and two viewing platforms at the Fanny Hill build site will face additional changes, however. The platforms, intended to provide buyers with a way to take in views from lots 3 and 9, can be easily accessed by passing skiers and prompted safety concerns from council.
Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk suggested that the ski-by platform 9 could quickly become a hazard — even with safety ropes in place — if passersby attempt to use the platform as a jump, or if children try to access the area unsupervised.
“Who’s monitoring to make sure people aren’t getting on that platform, like kids?” Shenk asked. “If it was located somewhere else it would be different — but it’s not.”
On the suggestion of councilman Bob Sirkus, Mayor Butler requested that the resolution include provisions for a locking gate at platform access; with the proposed changes, it passed unanimously.
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A six mile cross-country ski race brought 168 skiers to the trails between Snowmass and Buttermilk in 1971.