Public gives development mixed review
SILVERTHORNE – In its more than two years in the public eye, Silver Mountain Village has garnered plenty of comments both pro and con its development. Last week’s public hearing on the preliminary plans was no different.
Some Silverthorne-area residents expressed a lot of concerns and some criticisms, while still others gave the project their endorsement.
The council voted 4-2 in favor of the preliminary plans, with Councilmembers Sheila Groneman and Howard Hallman in opposition.
The project calls for the transformation of a meadow into a mixed-use development including houses, townhomes and condominiums, an elementary school, daycare center, supermarket and an assortment of other shops.
Concerns about the development were the impetus behind the creation in 2000 of a citizens’ group, Silverthorne Area Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth, a vocal cross-section of Silverthorne and Summit County residents. The group has since faded into apparent oblivion. The concerns have not.
The idea of losing the meadow to development bothers Jim Shaw, an Eagles Nest resident.
“Summit County, to me, is a very special place,” he told the council. “Now we’re having discussions about whether we ought to place commercial in the middle of an agricultural (property). I think the commercial ought to occur in the commercial areas.”
Shaw cited portions of the town’s comprehensive plan to support his contention, including a policy that says development should be encouraged in the “existing commercial business districts prior to creation of additional commercial areas.”
“I think Silver Mountain Village clearly fails the test of passing the comprehensive plan,” Shaw said. “What we run the risk of is making parts of Silverthorne look like West Colfax, where you go from stoplight to stoplight and commercial area to commercial area.”
West Colfax Street is in Denver.
Shaw encouraged the council to put the project to a vote.
Silverthorne resident Jim Rodkey also pointed out the project’s inconsistency with the comprehensive plan.
“This is one of the most beautiful sites we have,” he said. “The comprehensive plan says this shouldn’t be here. You used the comprehensive plan against the motorcycle business – I think that’s unfair.”
Rodkey cited the council’s recent rejection of a Harley-Davidson retail shop on Tanglewood Drive at the other end of town. In denying the sketch plan, councilmembers cited policies in the comprehensive plan with which they said the project didn’t comply. Among those policies is a section that says commercial uses that “are compatible with Silverthorne’s livability, mitigate any adverse impacts and do not disrupt residential areas.” Rodkey and some other residents believe Silver Mountain Village doesn’t fit that policy.
But Rodkey, who owns a Frisco coffee shop, also said he’d like to expand his business – perhaps to Silver Mountain Village. The problem, he said, is that other than Safeway, no one knows what businesses will go there.
“I would like to put a coffee shop in this location, but I hear Safeway is putting in a Starbucks,” he said. “What else is Safeway going to allow? There are a lot of good little coffee shops that would like to stay in business.”
Still other residents told the council they support the project.
“I, being a neighbor, am looking forward to it being completed,” said Willowbrook resident Janet Osgood. “I think it will enhance Willowbrook. I’m looking forward to children bicycling and walking to school, and I’m looking forward to bicycling and walking to Safeway.”
Eagles Nest resident John Taylor, who has followed the project’s progress closely, said he had expected to see more details at the preliminary level. Nevertheless, Silver Mountain Village brings a lot to the community, he said, and some sales tax is required to support those amenities.
“The school, day care and affordable housing we need,” he said. “And the store is the wherewithal to get it.”
Developers said they hope to bring Silver Mountain Village back to the council for final approval in December, with an eye toward starting construction next spring.
Jane Reuter can be reached
at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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