Breckenridge Grand Vacations gondola lot development passes final planning commission hearing

The master plan for the proposed Breckenridge Grand Vacations development was approved at its final hearing with the Breckenridge Planning Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
Breckenridge Planning Commission agenda packet/Courtesy rendering

The master plan for the Breckenridge Grand Vacations development on the Gold Rush and North Gondola lots passed its final hearing with the planning commission and is now moving onto Breckenridge Town Council for approval.

Changes from the plan’s third preliminary hearing Sept. 21 were simply to remove language from the master plan for items that the applicant and commission agreed were more appropriate for site-specific planning.

The commissioners and the applicant also discussed the latest updates to the master plan’s point analysis, a system used for reviewing development applications. Town staff and planning commission award positive points for aspects of planning projects that contribute to town goals and negative points for those against town goals or code.

Previously, the master plan had received three negative points in architectural compatibility for plans to use up to 50% non-natural materials. Planning commissioners were wary of this because there aren’t many details about what each individual building would look like at the master-plan level, so the applicant decided to remove the language so it can be assessed at the site-planning level.

“In some ways, it probably makes it a little easier to have an honest review of the architecture when you’re actually seeing the building in front of you,” town planner Chris Kulich said at the meeting.

The commission declined to give the application three additional points, which Breckenridge Grand Vacations CEO and co-owner Mike Dudick had previously asked that the commission consider for internal circulation. At the final hearing, Dudick listed a few reasons why he thought the points should be added, one being pedestrian safety concerns along North Park Avenue, which is also Colorado Highway 9.

“(Breckenridge Grand Vacations) is committed to working with the town to deploy its capital quickly to mitigate some of these vehicular/pedestrian conflicts,” Dudick said. “We will work hard upon approval of this master plan to get that sidewalk in place next summer, because one more summer beyond that is too many that we don’t have a safe way for people to get back from their ski way to these parking lots.”

While Commissioners Mark Leas and Allen Frechter were comfortable with the requested additional points, Commissioners Jay Beckerman, Steve Gerard and Mike Giller were not. Gerard said breaking out parts of a master plan to find additional points sets a bad precedent, and Beckerman agreed. Commissioner Tanya Delahoz was not present for the final hearing.

Some commissioners also asked Dudick why he was adamant about earning additional points from the commission.

“I want my project to pass,” Dudick said. “I think we can all read the papers and see the headwinds that we’re facing politically on this. And candidly, that’s what it’s about is passing it. But I think our track record when we did … (Grand Colorado on Peak 8) and we came in and added points for workforce housing at the end, speaks to the idea that we’re committed to max positive points in our applications because we just think it’s the right thing to do.

“We’re doing everything we can to make this a very compelling case to approve this master plan at positive 13 points,” he added.

The commission ultimately voted on three items: finalizing the point analysis, adding three new conditions of approval and approving the application.

The vote to approve 10 positive points was initially 4-1 because Leas wanted the additional three points for internal circulation, but Dudick said he would be happy with a unanimous vote supporting 10 points. The commission rescinded the 4-1 vote and then unanimously approved the point analysis.

The three new conditions of approval:

  • Add that the town’s appointed third-party consultant must review and approve the traffic study Breckenridge Grand Vacations did for the master plan prior to any submittal of site-specific development permit applications.
  • Add that the ownership of wetlands on the site would be transferred to the town.
  • Remove language in the master plan stating that heated sidewalks would be added on French Street.

In regard to the heated sidewalks, Beckerman noted that this should receive negative points that weren’t allocated at the master-plan level, and commissioners agreed it was better suited for review at the site-planning level, similar to architectural compatibility.

Looking to the initial construction phase, Leas asked if the applicant would work to build its roundabout on North Park Avenue and French Street in conjunction with the town building its new roundabout a short ways away at North Park Avenue to minimize disruptions.

Dudick said he already met with Town Manager Rick Holman to discuss the best ways to coordinate in the future.

“We’re committed to working with the community to make it as painless as possible, at least for the shortest period of time that is reasonably possible,” Dudick said.

The commission unanimously approved the master plan, and Beckerman said the commission is excited to see it come to fruition.

“I think all of us look at these projects and see a different vision and different reason why it should be supported,” Giller said. “I don’t think anybody has ever called into question the (Breckenridge Grand Vacations) product or the quality of work. … Your passion for having your project look as good as it can is remarkable and should be noted.”

Town Council will review planning commission’s approval of the project at its Tuesday, Oct. 26, meeting. Council members can vote to call up the project for a hearing or simply allow the planning commission decision to stand.

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