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Snowmass Town Council reviews Base Village amendment, proposed parking plans

Snowmass Town Hall on May 3, 2020.
Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun

At a more than three-hour regular meeting Aug. 3, Town Council reviewed several different projects and proposals, including the minor planned unit development (PUD) amendment for the final phase of the Base Village development project and a new proposed paid parking program for this winter and next summer. Here’s the recap:

TOWN COUNCIL BEGINS REVIEW OF CHANGES TO NEXT PHASE OF BASE VILLAGE

Snowmass Town Council began its review of the minor planned unit development (PUD) amendment submitted for “phase three” of Base Village on Aug. 3.

This first look at the amendment to the already approved last phase of Base Village development, which includes five new buildings (10A, 10B, 11, 12 and 13B) and the Base Village pool, served mainly as an introduction with little council discussion.

Andy Gunion, managing partner of East West Partners, gave a presentation explaining the major asks of the minor PUD amendment and addressing the concerns raised about these asks by Base Village residents, neighbors and members of Planning Commission — overall emphasizing that the proposed changes will guide the completion of Base Village in a way that’s beneficial and makes it viable for the entire Snowmass community.

“We’ve got all of these great things going on in (Base Village),” Gunion said to council. “But it is not sustainable if we don’t get the rest of this village built and we’re not going to build it under a plan that makes no sense.”

On July 15, the Planning Commission finished its review of the proposed minor PUD amendment, mostly aligning with town staff recommendations for approval and the Base Village developers’ requested shifts and changes to the project’s last five buildings, including:

Create an overarching master development plan for phase three of Base Village and a more streamlined building- or site-specific approval process. The minor PUD amendment itself is meant to serve as the master development plan, which lays out minimum and maximum parameters (like square footage, building heights, employee housing mitigation, etc.) for each building.

If the master development plan and minor PUD amendment is approved, developers would then be able to bring site-specific development plans for each building with real-time market trends and design adjustments to Planning Commission and Town Council for review and approval. Snowmass Ventures feels this process would allow for more design flexibility and be more efficient for all parties versus going through a full, more time-consuming minor PUD amendment process for every proposed design change over the next several years of the phase three project.

“Pivot” or shift the positioning of both Building 11 and Building 10A, which are proposed along Wood Road, to create a more amenable and easily accessible “village pool” area for Base Village tenants. Building 10B’s position will be relatively unchanged from what was originally approved in 2015.

Allow for the potential of making Building 13B, which is planned adjacent to Viceroy Snowmass, a commercial, hotel extension of the Viceroy versus a building with residential condo units.

A revised alternative parking plan that would shift some of the originally approved parking requirements for the project. Generally speaking, the parking plan follow ratios of 0.75 spaces per residential unit, two spaces per residential unit with four bedrooms or more within a building with at least 20 units, and 0.5 spaces per hotel/lodging unit. However, the plan also would allow for the potential to charge for Base Village parking in the summer, some parking requirement reductions down to a 0.6 space per residential unit ratio minimum as a result of a residential car share program and dedicated stall program Base Village owners can utilize to store their vehicles.

Extend the vested rights to complete the full Base Village development another five years, giving developers until November 2029.

As Gunion explained to council, the main goals of the proposed changes are to get these remaining Base Village buildings completed as efficiently as possible with real-time, design flexibility for each building as they begin to be constructed, and to make the final village design — namely the pool area and open space between buildings — accessible and inviting for the entire community to enjoy.

But neighbors like The Enclave Association of Enclave Condominiums, which sit directly across from the proposed 10A and 10B buildings, feel the shift of 10A and 11 would have a substantial “adverse impact” on the north facing views from the Enclave units and property, and would create an increased “wall effect” along Wood Road, as previously reported.

Base Village residents such as Pat Keefer have also expressed concerns with the amendment proposal, specifically that making Building 13B a commercial hotel extension of the Viceroy would have a negative financial impact on Base Village’s Metro District 2 tax district and Master Homeowner’s Association, and would restrict Base Village owners’ overall right to accessible garage parking.

Some Planning Commission members also expressed split views on the potential impacts of the changes to the original Base Village project outlined in the amendment. In response to these concerns, Gunion and Ellen McCready presented more specifics in their presentation to council Aug. 3.

They showed projected financial impacts to Base Village owners if 13B becomes a commercial hotel, which would balance out to overall be financially positive for owners a part of the Metro 2 tax district and Master Homeowner’s Association and would also have a greater financial impact on the town.

They also showed how the next Base Village phase of development will impact views no matter what, but that most of the main views from the Enclave units would not be impacted, as they are oriented to look toward the ski area and not Base Village.

“The consideration here is not no buildings versus buildings, the consideration is this building versus that building. … Generally speaking I don’t think we’re increasing the view obstruction from Wood Road to the mountain, it’s going to happen under either plan,” Gunion explained, referring to the proposed reorientation of buildings 10A and 11.

“I think the trade off here is clearly beneficial, we get a much better plan and a better experience for the entire Snowmass community versus a building being a little bit closer to the Enclave.”

After Gunion’s and McCready’s presentation, Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk asked for clarification on how the town’s legal review standards for a minor PUD amendment should be used to guide council’s review moving forward.

The standards as defined in the town’s land-use code are that the proposed changes must be consistent with the original PUD approval; have no substantially adverse effect on the neighborhood surrounding the land where the amendment is proposed; make no change to the basic character of the PUD or surrounding areas; and comply with all other applicable town standards.

“I struggle with this four criteria of review and understanding what it takes to pass that review,” Shenk said. “It’s really hard for me to understand in my head how maybe (the proposed amendment) fails or isn’t so good at one thing but passes on another standard of review. What does it take on all four standards to get to that next level?”

Town Manager Clint Kinney and Town Attorney John Dresser explained that these review standards are more subjective than objective, as the PUD process itself is more subjective and meant to allow for some flexibility in how the pieces of a larger project fit together to create a viable whole.

Staff emphasized that overall both staff and Planning Commission recommend the minor PUD amendment be approved with the outlined conditions and requirements in the commission’s resolution, and that council needs to work through the amendment standards and how they are being met as a whole.

“In the event that the council would decide that it doesn’t meet these standards and we’re not going to approve the amendment, the right to still build remains,” Dresser said. “Each of you may interpret those standards a little differently and you have to discuss that … but the five of you have to come together to make a decision on one document.”

Council will continue its review of the minor PUD amendment at its Aug. 17 meeting at 4 p.m., starting with the concerns that the proposed project changes would adversely impact Base Village neighbors and change the basic character of the development area.

TOWN STAFF SEEKS DIRECTION ON PROPOSED WINTER/SUMMER PARKING PLAN

During the administrative reports portion of the Aug. 3 council meeting, town staff presented a draft of a new three-year paid parking program for the village this winter and next summer.

As explained by David Peckler, town transportation director, and Clint Kinney, town manager, the new proposed program includes the addition of a summer permit and parking enforcement system from June 12 through Sept. 26 of next year in response to the steady increase of summer visitors and popularity of summer events in Snowmass.

This proposed summer program would largely mirror the winter program and aims to improve access to the numbered lots for summer guests. It would also include the addition of a full-time, year-round employee and a summer full-time employee to execute enforcement of the winter and summer parking programs on behalf of the transportation department.

However, if COVID-19-related social distancing and public gathering restrictions are still in place next summer, the town will not implement summer parking fees, Peckler and Kinney said.

This year’s winter parking program, an annual agreement between the town, Aspen Skiing Co., Snowmass Mountain Lodging, LLC, and Base Village Metropolitan District No. 1, would be relatively unchanged except for increases to resident and employee parking fees.

For example, as proposed, a seasonal permit for a resident’s first vehicle would jump from $60 last winter to $80 this winter, and there would be a yearly one-vehicle permit option of $140. Employee seasonal permits would jump from $50 to $80. Similar price increases occur from the 2021-22 season to the 2022-23 season.

“We’ve never had a three-year plan, so we wanted to put out a concept for an early discussion to start thinking a little longer term,” Kinney said. “This is the next iteration of a concept that’s been discussed for a number of years. … We needed to start from some place.”

Council expressed concern with the annual increases outlined in the winter and summer program, noting that annual and seasonal permits across the board would increase by roughly 15% to 20% each year through the 2022-23 season, and that this year seems to be an inappropriate time to start these increases due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“The jump year over year is significant on the backs of the residents within the community,” Mayor Markey Butler said, especially for residents who purchase more than one permit type. “For many residents, right now may not be the time to do this.”

In response, Peckler and Kinney said Snowmass Village hasn’t increased its parking fees since 2014 but that if council feels this isn’t the year to start increasing these rates, then the town will follow that direction.

“Our parking rates are the cheapest parking rates for a resort around, so we thought, is this an opportunity to start increasing that?” Kinney explained.

“If the answer is no, then we’re not going to fall on our sword to say it has to happen. We wanted to point out here’s where we are, here’s where we think we need to get to, but if the council says ‘You know what? Let’s keep winter where it is or increase some of the rates,’ that’s great, that’s the feedback we’re looking for.”

Council expressed general consensus around no more than a 10% increase each year to parking permit fees but not starting this winter due to COVID-19, and asked staff to bring an amended winter and summer plan back to council in two or three weeks.

mvincent@aspentimes.com


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