Copper residents sound off |

Copper residents sound off

Summit Daily/Kristin Skvorc

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Neighborhood concerns about development and density surfaced Thursday evening during the first official public meeting of the latest Intrawest proposal to revamp Copper’s base area.A key theme that emerged revolved around the rights and expectations of existing property owners, versus the need and desire to see economic growth and community vitality at Copper.Intrawest director of development John Wheatley touted the plan as a “re-enhancement of Copper,” while critics claimed the resort is simply trying to boost revenue by developing more real estate.”If you ask me what our goal is, it’s a better Copper, with multi-season vitality,” Wheatley said Thursday to launch the Ten Mile Planning Commission’s first work session on the development proposal.Wheatley said after the meeting that he appreciated the input from the public and planning commission, and that Intrawest will address some of the issues during upcoming reviews.

“I’m not locked into a plan. That’s why you didn’t see me talking and reacting. Then I’m not listening,” he said.Intrawest wants to redistribute existing density at the resort and add 613 new “equivalent units,” including a flagship Hard Rock Hotel on the site of what is now the Chapel parking lot. Many of the public comments at the session supported the idea of a hotel and denser development near the center of the existing base area. But plans to add hundreds of residential units in some of the peripheral areas – in the A Lift neighborhood and around Copper Valley, for example – drew mixed reviews.Copper Valley residents who now enjoy easy access to open space and terrific views could be surrounded on all four sides by development under the new plan, and that represents “a reach beyond anything that should be considered” by the planning commission, said John Krone, vice president of the condo association’s board of directors.According to Krone, the plan could dramatically affect the value of existing Copper Valley units.

“All of a sudden, what I thought I was getting is not going to be there,” said Krone, who has owned a Copper Valley unit for 20 years. “This is not an enhancement for Copper Valley,” said Krone, calling on Intrawest to revise its proposal in such a way that existing rights are respected. “They (the resort) attracted current owners based on certain promises and expectations, Krone said, adding that he feels the resort is changing the rules in mid-stream.”One thing that’s missing is a change in circumstance,” said Art Abplanalp, an Eagle County-based land use attorney representing Copper Valley homeowners. “Changes in zoning need to be justified by a change in condition or a change in the county’s development code.”For Summit County, steps required to change zoning are outlined in county development codes and in sub-basin master plans, which together set out criteria an applicant must address to justify a change in zoning.”You can’t say it’s never going to change next to you,” said Wheatley. “There is zoning in place, but it can always be changed with a process,” he said. As Intrwest moves forward with the Copper plan, the company will show its application for re-zoning meets those criteria, Wheatley said.Other Copper residents added a more balanced view of the Intrawest plan.

“An increase (in density) is good,” said Copper Metro District manager Dave Erickson. “It means growth, jobs, more people. But it must be balanced against the community’s ability to provide emergency services, water and the impacts to existing amenities,” he said. “By the end of the process we’ll know whether this plan represents over-building … density is neutral. It’s only when you don’t meet the community’s needs that it becomes too much.”The next planning commission work session for the proposed planned unit development amendment at the resort is scheduled for May 25.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996, or at

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