Intrawest poll called a scare tactic
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – A recent poll of Snowmass Village residents that indicated more than 60 percent favor Base Village was an attempt by the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest to discourage a referendum, a former town mayor saidJeff Tippett, chairman of Citizens for Responsible Growth (CRG), said the poll was a scare tactic. “They’re trying to convince opposing groups not to do a referendum,” said Tippett, who’s been opposed to the size of Base Village from the beginning. “They’re trying to scare us out of it or convey there is no hope.” If the project passes a final vote from the Snowmass Village Town Council in late October, a citizens referendum could be launched if about 190 signatures can be gathered.Tippett said he knows what questions were asked in the survey and he would not characterize the poll as scientific. “It was message testing,” he said. “It was designed to help (the applicants) structure their advertising campaign. Michael O’Connor, Intrawest’s vice president of development, said the poll was created to get a pulse on the community and was not designed to instill fear. “It’s important for people to understand that this has been a four-year process and we want to do the right thing here in Snowmass,” he said. “The only way to gauge how the community feels we’re doing is to do a poll.” Base Village would add about 640,000 square feet of residential space and 64,000 square feet of commercial space to Snowmass Village, mostly at the base of Fanny Hill. Aspen Skiing Co. vice president for planning Bill Kane said the poll indicated about 65 percent of residents favor Base Village while 35 percent are opposed. Tippett said he doesn’t know whether those numbers are accurate since the results of the poll have not been officially released. Instead, Tippett has chosen to rely on his own survey to determine whether he will launch a referendum. Last week, Tippett mailed 930 letters to registered voters in Snowmass Village with four specific yes/no questions: Would you sign a referendum? Would you vote against Base Village? Would you participate in a campaign? Would you like to remain anonymous?”We’ll base our decision on the input we get,” he said. “So far, we’re getting a lot of support for a referendum.”Tippett said if he gets 400 people to back a referendum it will give him the “courage and incentive to move forward.” Tippett and CRG launched a citizens initiative in March to challenge the size of Base Village and other large future developments. The initiative was shot down by 64 votes – 443 to 379. Only 822 of the some 1,600 registered voters in Snowmass Village at the time actually voted. Intrawest and Skico have already embarked on an anti-referendum campaign, including a full-page spread in the Aspen papers highlighting the additional nightlife it claims Base Village will bring to town.Tippett said nightlife won’t happen since the applicant went below the town’s code for employee housing. “The only thing that will create dynamics and nightlife is people living in Snowmass,” he said. Employee housing percentages will actually jump from the current 27 percent to about 42 percent under Base Village, but that still falls under the requirements in the town’s code if the large development passes. “We may have cut the percentage based on the Snowmass code but not on historical data of resorts in North America,” Intrawest’s O’Connor said. “We feel we’re in line for where employee housing should be.”We will satisfy a number of employees who truly want to live in the resort and can afford to live in the resort.”
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