Snowmass Base Village approved |

Snowmass Base Village approved


SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” The Snowmass Village Town Council unanimously passed its Base Village proposal on Wednesday, putting an end to nearly four years of debate and negotiations.

If the project survives an expected challenge at the ballot box, groundbreaking is set to begin in spring 2005.

“This is the most significant event to have happened in Snowmass Village since (the ski area was formed),” said Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester during the public meeting. “It’s pretty hard for me to believe we’re actually here.”

Manchester and his colleagues on the town council approved over 800,000 square feet of residential and close to 200,000 square feet of non-residential development, including 64,000 square feet of commercial space.

When all is said and done, Base Village ” a joint effort by the Aspen Skiing Co. and resort developer Intrawest ” will encompass more than 1 million square feet (including public areas such as lobbies, hallways, and storage areas) primarily at the base of Fanny Hill.

But the project still has some hurdles to clear.

A referendum can be launched with approximately 190 signatures from Snowmass Village citizens, drawing a final yes/no vote from the community.

Earlier this week, Jeff Tippett, chairman of Citizens for Responsible Growth, said a private survey indicated “several hundred” local residents were supportive of a referendum and an anti-Base Village campaign is in the works.

Aspen Skiing Co. owner Jim Crown said he expects a referendum, but he doesn’t believe it will sink the development.

“I have great confidence in the survey work we did recently,” he said via a conference call after the vote. “Approximately 60 percent support, or strongly support Base Village.”

That survey was conducted in early September and included 130 randomly selected residents, which is about 10 percent of the electorate.

Crown suggested that local residents may be familiarizing themselves with the project and are therefore more comfortable than they were a year ago, when the community appeared split in half.

“Change is scary, change can be threatening and confusing to people and change presents risks that things won’t be as good tomorrow as they are today,” Crown said. “It’s not unusual to find any idea in Aspen to inspire debate, and it’s not surprising that there (is an opposition).

“And I’m not surprised that the majority seem to favor (Base Village) or favor it strongly.”

Referendum aside, Wednesday was an opportunity for the partnership to take a deep breath and savor the vote.

“I can’t tell you how surrealistic this seems,” said Skico’s vice president of planning, Bill Kane. In his 30 years of planning work in the Aspen area, Kane has watched with a heavy heart as one base village-type proposal after another has been shot down.

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