Ten Mile Planning Commission likely to approve Copper buildout | SummitDaily.com

Ten Mile Planning Commission likely to approve Copper buildout

FRISCO – The Ten Mile Planning Commission indicated at a meeting last week that it was likely to recommend approval of Intrawest’s buildout plan for Copper Mountain.

The signal comes almost two years after Intrawest proposed adding up to 1,200 new units of hotel rooms, condos, townhomes and single-family homes along with more commercial space and a performing arts center.

The plan also calls for two gondolas on the valley floor to move skiers from the parking lots to the lifts.

A centerpiece of development would be a high-rise hotel in the area of the firehouse and the Chapel parking lot. The firehouse would be built anew on the east end of the village.

A positive planning commission recommendation would bring the proposal before the Board of County Commissioners for final approval this fall.

“It sounded very positive that the planning commission is moving toward approval,” Copper Mountain Resort Development Vice President Joe Whitehouse said.

The announcement came at the end of a nearly five-hour meeting last Thursday that was typical of the long and drawn-out sessions that have characterized the land-use review from the beginning. It began with a packed audience full of citizen comments and trickled down to a handful of attendees at the end, most of them Copper Mountain officials.

Despite visible, and often audible, frustration with the pace of the proceedings, officials said it was all part of the game.

“This is the way it works,” said Jim Spenst, vice president of mountain operations at Copper. “This is part of the public process to flesh out the issues.”

“It’s a big density request and it takes a lot of time,” said Chris Hawkins, the county’s director of current planning. “It takes as much time as it does to get it right.

“I think (the proposal) has really benefited from the public debate,” he added.

Whitehouse agreed.

“What I saw happen tonight was a little refresher,” Whitehouse said. “It’s a very complicated process and there’s a lot of big issues. It’s important that everybody understand what the changes are.”

The recommendation for the approval of the resort’s planned unit development (PUD) amendment will not be without its caveats, however.

After extensive debate on a variety of topics ranging from parking to density in the Alpine Lift neighborhood, the commission said it would probably recommend approval on the condition that one of the two proposed gondolas be stricken from the plan.

The gondola would travel between Union Creek and the Village Center and pass near a number of residences at the Lodge at Copper Mountain. Numerous residents have voiced concerns about the proposal, prompting commissioners to request that county planning staff discuss the matter further with the resort.

At least one resident was dissatisfied with the evening’s results.

Copper Mountain resident Tom Malmgren said he thought the meeting was a step in the wrong direction, pointing to transportation issues and concerns over building height that he believed had previously been resolved.

“We went way backwards,” Malmgren said. “People who didn’t attend the last part of this meeting don’t have any idea of what happened.”

The planning commission will meet for what looks to be its final discussions of the proposed changes on Sept. 11.

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