BOCC reviews proposed Copper base area projects
SUMMIT COUNTY – Copper Mountain’s proposal to concentrate density in the core of the resort includes preliminary plans for a 10-story hotel on the site of the existing Chapel parking lot, as well as the vacation of public rights-of-way at a few locations around the resort.County commissioners took a close look at the plan to amend the resort’s planned unit development (PUD) at a work session Tuesday, asking detailed questions about proposed density transfers, as well as plans for parking and transit.County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, for example, said there are still some big question marks about how Copper plans to provide adequate parking while building new hotels and condos on existing parking lots. Partly at issue is a proposal to expand parking on national forest land east of Highway 91. That project is subject to a separate review and approval process by the U.S. Forest Service.”I really will want some detailed information on how we’re not displacing parking on private land with development and replacing it with parking on public land on the Corn Lot,” Davidson said. Davidson also wanted to know how parking plans would be affected if the resort doesn’t get approval for the Corn Lot expansion.Copper general manager and vice president Gary Rodgers said the answer lies partly in the resort’s commitment to replace all parking spots lost to development. Detailed engineering studies of parking areas and optimal operational performance are key to meeting that goal. Either way, Copper is committed to eliminating parking along Copper Road in time for the 2009-2010 ski season, Rodgers said.Davidson asked whether the PUD amendment assures that standard of performance would be met in future. “We need to have meaningful assurances that performance will be there … otherwise it becomes the county’s problem in terms of law enforcement,” Davidson said. He encouraged Copper to address the question of how to get more skiers per car coming to the resort as part of the parking equation.Davidson also said Copper should make sure Summit Stage stops are convenient to the lifts. That would help address the resort’s parking and transit challenges, he said.Overview”This plan is about moving forward … it’s about the future,” said Rodgers, outlining some of the challenges associated with what he described as the resort’s small bed base and land base.Rodgers said the PUD amendment is balanced and represents a compromise based on feedback from resort residents and businesses, as well as county planners.”Significant changes have been made to this plan since you saw it over a year ago,” Rodgers said. “I’m not delusional through. I’m not expecting unanimous support … but there is widespread support from stakeholders,” Rodgers said. The resort listened carefully to community input and considered those comments in developing it’s latest proposal, Rodgers said, explaining that the process was about “rebuilding trust.”Relocating existing development rights in the core of the base area will help create hot beds where they are needed to create a critical mass for commercial activity at the resort, Rodgers explained.Commissioner Davidson said the county has a “significant interest” in the resort’s need to have changes in building height limits associated with the proposed PUD amendment. Davidson also asked whether there is any phantom (un-buildable) density associated with Copper’s plan to transfer existing development rights within the resort. Other BOCC questions related to new development proposed in the A-Lift neighborhood and assigned uses there under current zoning, as well as plans to add density in the Copper Village and Sky Chutes neighborhood, where residents are opposed to any additional density.The next work session on the Copper PUD is set for Dec. 18. Summit County planning department information about Copper’s PUD application is available online at http://www.co.summit.co.us/Planning – under current projects. Mixed reviewsPublic comments on Copper’s PUD amendment were mixed, with criticism generally coming from residents of existing areas that will be affected by new development.The biggest questions came from residents of the Copper Valley and Sky Chutes neighborhood, where Copper wants to add 52 residential units. That plan could conflict with the expectation of residents who bought property in that neighborhood based on the existing zoning, said Peter Froelicher, representing the Copper Valley homeowners board.”There’s no explanation as to why this zoning change is needed, why it’s in the public interest,” Froelicher said. “Copper Valley will be unduly and unreasonably impacted by what Intrawest proposes.”Similar comments came from Copper resident Tom Malmgren, who questioned plans to add residential development in the A-Lift neighborhood.Bob Bloch, another Copper property owner, supported the PUD amendment and said adding large-scale buildings like Copper Station and Copper Springs Lodge has not had a detrimental effect on existing properties.- Bob Berwyn
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