Intrawest wins a big development vote in Snowmass
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Voters decreed Thursday that a controversial Base Village development proposed by Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. is a go.A record 1,155 voters turned out for a special referendum election on a town council decision to approve the $400 million project.Town clerk Rhonda Coxon reported 640 favored the development against 515 voting no – a 55 to 45 percent margin.The development includes 246 hotel-style units, 349 condos, 10 luxury townhomes and 64,000 square feet of commercial space.A total of $45 million in mountain improvements, including a new gondola, six-pack chairlift, 20,000-square-foot children’s center and a new beginner’s area, are part of the deal.For Intrawest, the owner of Copper Mountain, the victory helps ease the pain of the Summit County commissioners’ rejection last July 12 of a plan that would have almost doubled the size of Copper over the next 15 years by adding about 1,200 units.The Snowmass Village decision comes after a prolonged and contentious battle that has divided the community almost down the middle. Now, many hope the healing can begin.”This is a strong indication the community wants to move forward with this project, especially since this is one of the largest turnouts we’ve ever had,” said Mayor Douglas “Merc” Mercatoris. “Now it’s time to heal any wounds we have.”Opposition leader Jeff Tippett, a former mayor, said he wouldn’t protest the results given the relatively large margin of victory. “It’s not worth going through with a 125-vote margin,” he said.Tippett, who organized a group called Citizens for Responsible Growth, said he’s “not big on sour grapes,” adding that after nearly two years of fighting against this project, he is done.”We lost and nothing is next. I’ve been telling people I’m not about to chain myself to a bulldozer. I’m not going on suicide watch. I’m going skiing in the morning,” he said.In October, the Snowmass Village Town Council voted unanimously to approve the Base Village final planned unit development (PUD) application after nearly three years of review.Opponents did not protest the project in concept but the amount of mass, scale and height built into it.Still, Jim Crown, the managing partner of the Crown family that owns the Aspen Skiing Co., promised the town that there would not be a “Base Village Lite” behind this plan were voters to reject it.Town Councilmember Bill Boineau, who has long supported the project, said he was personally “surprised” with the decision. “It’s different than what I thought the outcome would be,” he said.And like the majority of his colleagues on council, he has some concerns about the project that will bring more than 1 million square feet of development onto a 20-acre parcel of land.”In my opinion, this isn’t the best Base Village. This is a good Base Village. For my money, I would have done some things differently,” Boineau said.
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