Snake River planners look at land use
SUMMIT COUNTY – Proposed zoning changes around Arapahoe Basin could allow for a private ski club in the future, similar to Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek or Game Creek Club at Vail.The Snake River Planning commission will get its first look at draft language that would re-designate privately owned mining claims in the basin from rural-residential A-1 zoning to a new ski area land-use category. The proposed change would affect several parcels at Arapahoe Basin, said county planner Mark Truckey, explaining that the new designation would be a first for Summit County. Whether the private parcels are appropriate for development of quasi-private members-only, or club-type facilities, according to a county staff report, will be discussed at the meeting at 5:30 p.m. today at Dillon Town Hall.Ski area owner Dundee Realty USA owns several inholdings surrounded by publicly owned National Forest lands, including a 5-acre parcel near the bottom of the Lenawee triple chair. Other private parcels within A-Basin’s permit area are owned by third parties. A-Basin has acquired some of the land in recent years, in part to ensure continued access to all the ski area terrain, according to ski area execs.In a staff report, county planners wrote that the new language would ensure that lands under the designation would be “used in a manner that is consistent with protection and enhancing the existing character of the ski area and its alpine surroundings.”Truckey said the planning commission discussion, held in the context of a master plan update, was spurred by talks with A-Basin officials. Truckey said it’s not likely any residential development would be proposed for the parcels, but changing the zoning could preclude residential development proposals on the old mining claims in the future.It’s not clear if the proposed change would have any effect on planning a mid-mountain lodge and restaurant at The Legend. Ski area leaders Jim Gentling and Greg Finch, of Dundee Realty USA, have informally talked about a new midway lodge and a pedestrian highway underpass for safer access to the remote parking lots.At the top of the list was a new patrol headquarters at the Norway summit, a facility that is nearly complete, including public restrooms, a deck and a warming room. According to the county’s staff report, the intent of the proposed draft language is to “allow uses typically associated with ski areas while limiting the impacts of these uses and maintaining the area’s alpine character. Part of the character and charm of Arapahoe Basin is the limited development, with no residential development (unique in Summit County), and its dramatic alpine setting. “For this reason, residential uses are not appropriate within the Ski Area designation, as they could potentially have a dramatic impact on the existing character of the ski area.”A-Basin officials indicated to the county that some of the uses they might potentially be interested in pursuing on the inholdings include a land trade with the Forest Service, a snowmaking reservoir, a midway restaurant, a site for a renewable energy source, a members’ club facility, a lift facility for an East Wall lift, a corporate retreat or even a residence for the owners.In previous discussions, the planning commission indicated it did not favor allowing residential development in the area that could be inconsistent with the existing character of the area.The staff report raises the question of “whether it is acceptable to have commercial uses that have no public access or restricted access,” leaving it up to the planning commissioners as to how far they want to go in addressing this issue.The new ski area designation could also be applied to the bottom of the River Run slope at Keystone, according to the staff report. While currently proposed for open space and recreation zoning, the ski area category could give Keystone some requested flexibility to hold special events and accommodate other uses.Bob Berwyn can be contacted at email@example.com.
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