Village Voices: Mayor, Town Council candidates share thoughts on “Just Big Enough” concept in Snowmass |

Village Voices: Mayor, Town Council candidates share thoughts on “Just Big Enough” concept in Snowmass

Mount Daly glows in the setting sun in Snowmass on Monday, Sept. 22, 2020. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

For the next three weeks leading up to Election Day, the Snowmass Sun will feature the two candidates running for Snowmass mayor and five candidates running for Snowmass Town Council on the Village Voices community page.

The Snowmass Sun asked each candidate to respond to five questions about his/her guiding values and stances on issues and topics relevant to the Snowmass Village community, and each candidate’s responses to one question will run on Page 2 each week up until the Nov. 3 election, starting with the Sept. 30 issue and ending with the Oct. 28 issue.

Last week, Snowmass mayor and Town Council candidates answered the question “What do you feel you have to offer as an elected official to help guide effective decision-making for the Snowmass Village community?” This week, they tackle this prompt:

The town of Snowmass Village has a goal of “Just Big Enough,” an economic analysis for the village and phrase that refers to the town’s “obligation to only grow as necessary and only be ‘Just Big Enough,’” as stated in the 2018 Town Comprehensive Plan.

How do you feel the town aligns with this goal, and what steps do you feel need to be taken to keep Snowmass Village “Just Big Enough”?

Here are the candidates’ responses:


I believe the concept of “Just Big Enough” is centered on sustainability and resiliency. Snowmass Village needs to have the vibrancy to attract consumers who will support local businesses without overflowing and overusing the spaces we enjoy most. Many of us live in Snowmass Village because of the lifestyle the village provides. The balance between the desires of developers and the need to maintain open spaces is a constant debate. We, as a town, have done a good job addressing the concept of “Just Big Enough” through the 2018 comprehensive plan. The plan designates zones for development or comprehensively planned areas (CPAs). The Center, Base Village and Town Park are the three CPAs identified for development. These three locations will allow Snowmass Village to grow in specific zones, which will support local businesses and provide sustainability and resiliency during market fluctuations and offseasons.


This was a phrase captured from a previous council and the current town comprehensive plan. I do feel this has been adopted again to show the community that we will accept development but on a basis of how much the community can handle at once. I believe the original phrase was devised when Base Village was about to go underway. Now with the current developers moving forward, they brought another level of vibrancy to the Base Village area. The success of the existing Base Village has shown that it can compete with other world-class resorts; not just in the winter but also for all seasons. We have projects on the table right now and how the current council handles them will be a test of how “Just Big Enough” is actually working. Construction management will be just one vital skill as well as constant input from the community in determining whether we have reached the “Just Big Enough” mantra.


More than just an update of the 2010 plan, the 2018 Comprehensive Plan was an all-encompassing process that engaged residents, visitors and key stakeholders in helping shape and refine the character of Snowmass Village. The process was vital in determining what sets Snowmass apart from other resort towns while also identifying key opportunities for growth. The community collectively defined seven guiding principles to assist in setting priorities and goals for the town: stewardship, vibrant, genuine, active and healthy, balanced, connected and inclusive. The Town Council has an obligation to adhere to the will of the community while monitoring the progress of Base Village and making critical decisions regarding future development projects. We need to remain diligent in our application of these principles as they relate to growth to ensure continued alignment with this notion of “Just Big Enough.” We all play a vital role in the well-being of our village, with active community involvement and open communication enabling us to stay true to our values and foster a sense of balance so that together we will know when we are “Just Big Enough.”


Maintaining the natural and small-town character of Snowmass Village is essential to the enjoyment and sustainability of our town. This character sets us apart from other communities and is what attracts us to live here. There is continuing pressure of well-intentioned bigger, better, brighter projects proposed by private and public entities that must be carefully reviewed, adjusted, approved or denied by Town Council based on their impact on our community character. Physical improvements and growth are necessary to the function and vitality of our town, however they must be enacted in a sensitive and intelligent manner to keep Snowmass Village “Just Big Enough.” As an architect that can visualize a project in its early presentation and with technical knowledge regarding design and construction, I will be an asset to the council in this process. Town Council has a stewardship responsibility for maintaining the Snowmass Village’s unique character and council needs to establish this as a priority when setting their annual goals, which direct the actions of the town’s staff and Planning Commission.


I believe the determining factor for “Just Big Enough” did not substantially emerge from the 2018 Town Comprehensive Plan, but rather the 2005 defeat of the Base Village referendum. In that close election, the voters of Snowmass Village chose the option of large-scale growth as it pertained to Base Village.

What does JBE mean? Really, it has little in the way of precision or specificity. It is more like a Rorschach ink blot. The devil is in the details. As a guiding concept it has merit, but would have been more appropriate in 2003-04.

In 2020, the decisions around significant growth in town have largely been made. Base Village is now about 60% completed and the recent council approval of the PUD amendment for buildings 10A, 10B, 11, 12, and 13A assure they will be completed. The Center is in the final step of its approval process, which can safely be assumed to be fait accompli. Lots in Snowmass are 94% developed.

Certainly some growth is desirable but needs to be based on community benefits and impacts. Going forward, we ought to be vigilant around development occurring on cherished open space.


I believe that Snowmass Village already is “Just Big Enough” at this point. However, I believe we are missing some crucial pieces that could maximize the success of our current infrastructure. Housing is a good example of a known limiting factor that needs immediate action. Housing has been on the agenda for a long time but at the rate Snowmass Village is growing, we are behind on housing. We need to play catch up before there are no places in the village to add additional housing. This is a time sensitive issue and if Snowmass is to thrive in the future then adequate, affordable and the right amount of housing must be built very soon in order to support the workforce that it takes to operate what we have now constructed.


I feel the town has done a good job keeping the town small. I also feel there is room for tasteful economic growth and the updating of old buildings as they reach their useful life. I’m excited about the future renovation of Snowmass Town Park with more effective use of land for recreation and drawing more attention to the environment. I’m excited about the future renovation of the mall transit terminal, making for more streamlined, efficient access of buses to and from Snowmass Village. I’m excited about the future renovation of the Snowmass Center creating a more inviting, updated and attractive town center. Do I feel that Snowmass should ever build a giant yellow Ritz-Carlton or pave over the Ditch Trail? No.

However, I do believe there is room for economic growth. Room to complete the 2018 Town Comprehensive Plan and room for more affordable housing. It’s great to keep the town small but it’s also great to keep it up-to-date and to take care of our exceptional workers.


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