Commission seeking public input on Snake River Master Plan update
KEYSTONE – Affordable housing, development projects at Summit County’s quaintest ski area and guidelines to preserving the county’s backcountry are all addressed in the Snake River Master Plan Update, which will be displayed during an open house and public hearing Thursday.The plan, which serves as a guide to making future land decisions in unincorporated areas in the Snake River Basin, was originally adopted in 1994.County planners and the Snake River Planning Commission have been hashing out the details of the update for almost a year and hope to adopt the revision next month.Ski Area Land Use designationThe update addresses land use associated with the Basin’s two ski areas – Keystone and Arapahoe Basin.A-Basin owns a number of private mining claims throughout the mid and upper mountain, and ski area officials want to keep the door open for future developments, such as a midmountain restaurant, a snowmaking reservoir, a ski lift terminal or a private club facility.Commissioners were adamant that residential development be restricted to help maintain the mountain’s “charm and rustic feeling,” but some limited residential uses will be allowed.Employee housing and a small base area lodge are two possibilities outlined in the plan.
The mountain had a lodge that burned down in the 1960s, which consisted of 17 guest rooms, two dormitory-style rooms with 20 beds each and skier services.The plan states that any new lodge should be similar in size to the old lodge. The update also gives Keystone some flexibility in uses permitted at the base of the River Run ski slope, allowing for temporary food and beverage facilities for special events.Transfer of Development RightsTransfer of development rights, or TDRs, is a progressing program designed to protect backcountry land by redirecting the density to more urban areas.Resort developers can buy TDRs from backcountry landowners to gain land density beyond what’s allowed by zoning.Although the Snake River Basin has had a TDR program since 1994, it’s rarely been used, and commissioners are hoping a revision that focuses more on the backcountry will boost the program. An exception to the new TDR program is that Vail Resorts will be allowed to transfer density within Keystone Resort without using TDRs, as long as the overall density allowed in its development code is not exceeded.
Keystone Science SchoolCommissioners opted to make an unprecedented exception to TDRs for the Keystone Science School in order to maintain the long-term viability of the nonprofit field school.The plan recognizes the school’s ability to develop nine single-family residential units on the property, but does not require the school to pay the fee to have the development rights transferred.Although these parcels could be developed on the school property, commissioners are hoping the land instead will be used to generate money for the school by selling the development rights for tax credits.Affordable housingThe revised plan also leaves the door open for a possible affordable housing development or a childcare facility on a Keystone-owned parcel of land that is currently designated for a school.That designation was made 10 years ago, before Summit Cove Elementary School was built.
“We don’t need another elementary school,” said Thomas Davidson of Vail Resorts Development Company at a recent commission meeting. “What we do need is a community childcare center.”The parcel of land in question is called The Wintergreen Neighborhood and is located west of the Antlers Gulch Townhomes along Highway 6.The land is zoned open space, but Keystone officials wanted to change the zoning to community facility, which would allow for either affordable housing or a childcare, or both.Commissioner Terry Craig cited Breckenridge’s Wellington Neighborhood as a successful affordable housing neighborhood that could possibly be emulated in Keystone.The commissioners decided to leave the land designated as open space, but will consider discussing affordable housing if the proposal presents itself in the future.Other issues outlined in the plan include transportation, environment and recreation and trails.After the public hearing, the commission will adopt the update. Then the Board of County Commissioners will review the documents and decide whether or not to endorse the plan.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 229 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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