Breck master plan earns commission OK |

Breck master plan earns commission OK

BRECKENRIDGE – Almost three years, 19 meetings, four planning commissioner changes, six site visits and an estimated 684 cookies later, the Breckenridge Planning Commission has approved the Breckenridge Ski Resort’s master plan amendment and subdivision plans for the bases of Peaks 7

and 8.

The master plan now goes to the town council for review.

The new master plan calls for some major development at two of the ski resort’s three base areas, but it’s a far cry from the original master plan the town approved in October 1986. Those plans called for more than 1,700 parking spaces at the base, pedestrian tunnels, a remodel of the Bergenhof Restaurant, an 85-foot-tall hotel, a 68-foot-tall condo-hotel, 30 homes – and four tennis courts in the environmentally sensitive Cucumber Gulch wetlands.

Master plans are the documents guiding a project’s overall development concept. While they provide a lot of detail regarding infrastructure, phasing, density and the type of development that will be built, most details – exact building placement and architecture details – are hammered out later.

It wasn’t easy getting the project to this point. In September 2000, when the ski resort outlined its plans, commissioners appeared stunned. Later, discussions grew contentious. But determination on behalf of the developers and the town staff prevailed, commissioners agreed.

The ski area’s project, for which they have 20 years to build, will include 501 single-family equivalents (SFEs) at the Peak 8 base. An SFE is described as a single-family home of any size, 1,200 square feet of commercial space and 1,600 square feet of townhome space.

Part of the project involves relocating a portion of County Road 3 by eliminating the twisting roadway between Ski Watch condominiums and the Peaks Trail and re-establishing a paved road from the Bergenhof Restaurant to the Peaks Trail.

Over the past three years, ski area officials have solicited input from the community about the proposed project. They’ve conducted numerous traffic, environmental, wildlife, feasibility and financial analyses. A pivotal point came just over a year ago, when Chief Operations Officer Roger McCarthy and Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula sat down at Mamula’s house and, in four hours, crafted a development agreement.

Under the terms of that agreement, the ski area agreed to allow some density to expire in exchange for transferring other allowed density from its in-town parking lots to the ski area bases and the Village at Breckenridge. The ski area also reduced the amount of commercial density by almost half to appease merchants in town who feared the ski resort was creating two mini-villages with businesses that would compete with town stores.

The ski area also agreed to deed 56 acres of open space to the town; eliminate most parking from the ski area bases; construct a gondola from the Watson parking lot to Peak 7 and on to Peak 8 to ease traffic congestion on Ski Hill Road; donate land for a transit center in town; contribute $200,000 to daycare facilities; build a “ski-back” from the base to town; and conduct numerous mitigation efforts to protect wetlands in the area.

The ski area even went so far as to agree to hand-dig the holes in which gondola towers will be erected, to educate the construction teams about the importance of boreal toads (listed as endangered by the state) that might live in the gulch and to build a bridge, rather than a road, over a wetlands area when relocating County Road 3 near the Bergenhof Restaurant.

The town’s planning staff, which uses a point system to determine if a project can forge ahead, awarded the amended master plan four points. A score of zero is considered a passing analysis, allowing a project to proceed.

Ski area officials plan to use Peak 8 as the focal point of the new development, with a grand lodge for short-term guests, skier services, restaurants and other commercial uses. Peak 7 will comprise inn-like townhome units.

Commissioners had little comment about the proposal, agreeing there wasn’t much more to say after discussing the issue for 32 months.

“If you had told me we’d be sitting here more or less agreeing on this three years ago, I would have told you you were absolutely insane,” commissioner Eric Mamula said. “This started off so badly, it’s shocking we got anything done.”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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