BOCC questions Copper Planned Unit Development
summit daily news
SUMMIT COUNTY ” Intrawest’s upzoning proposal for the Copper Mountain base area raised more than just eyebrows at Tuesday’s worksession with the county commissioners. Along with a big turnout of local residents, the commissioners had plenty of questions about the plan to re-allocate about 700 units of existing density and add 613 more.
“I wonder if this density proposal has anything to do with the resort experience or if it’s all about real estate development,” said County Commisssioner Bill Wallace. “My biggest concerns are the 218 units of density in the A-Lift area. From day 1, A-Lift (was envisioned) as very low density,” Wallace said. “I don’t know how you build 218 units without disturbing something. I thought it was supposed to stay relatively undisturbed.”
Intrawest officials emphasized that each equivalent unit of density doesn’t translate to a single-family home or condo unit. The 218 units proposed for the A-Lift area, for example, would mean about 65 new on-the-ground buildings in a mix of single-family and multiple-unit dwellings.
Copper planners say the new density is needed to ensure a critical mass of residential and commercial development that will ensure the resort’s long-term economic viability. Thus the proposal to revamp the base area under a planned unit development (PUD) amendment.
“Why do you want another 600 units authorized when you already have 700 in the can, as it were?” said Commissioner Bob French, voicing the same question that has been repeated by citizens and some planning commissioners at several previous meetings. “Why don’t you come in … when you have 150 left,” French said.
Both French and Commissioner Tom Long also said they haven’t quite figured out how Copper plans to add more parking spaces, while at the same time proposing new development in existing parking lots, but said they needed more information on that topic.
Intrawest’s preliminary development plan does show how Copper could add several hundred new parking spaces in reconfigured lots around the resort, but more tweaking on the golf course redesign could affect that layout.
“I too think the numbers may be excessive, but I need more information,” Long said.
“And I’m not seeing the gain in parking … but I need to learn more,” Long said. “In my mind, tearing something down and rebuilding it is not a public benefit.”
Copper homeowner Tom Poehls said he thinks the bigger picture includes a potential sale of Intrawest, and that the upzoning proposal is “lipstick,” aimed at maximizing the value of the property to bolster development prospects for any buyers. That economic interest must be balanced agains the community responsibility the resort company has to existing residents and property owners, Poehls said.
Intrawest’s public affairs manager for Copper, Laura Goode, said Copper is not for sale, but that Intrawest is looking at financial options and possible investment partners.
Housing plan questioned
Another part of the Intrawest proposal to redistribute employee and affordable housing units also drew numerous comments. The resort wants to shift the bulk of employee housing out of the resort to surrounding communities.
Several residents and property owners were opposed to that idea, saying that more full-time residents are needed to give the base area some year-round life. But several Intrawest employees supported the change, saying that, for young families, it makes more sense to live near schools and shops.
Intrawest’s Goode said that she got some of the feedback she was looking for at the worksession on the key topics of density and employee housing.
“We’ll be looking the density again … how much and where it’s allocated,” Goode said after the meeting. “And we’re going back to the drawing board with the golf course plans,” she added.
The affordable housing plans may also change, based on the results of an employee housing survey, Goode said.
At issue is the ratio of on-site to off-site housing. Commissioner Wallace said it’s all fine and good to tweak the numbers here and there, but said there’s also a need to look at the housing issue in a community wide context, where there is a shortage of 2,000 to 3,000 units.
The next Copper PUD worksession is set for 9:30 a.m., June 13, at the County Courthouse in Breckenridge.
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