Garfield County Planning Commission recommends denial of Sunlight Mountain Resort expansion |

Garfield County Planning Commission recommends denial of Sunlight Mountain Resort expansion

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Garfield County Planning Commission unanimously denied a proposal to build a base village at Sunlight Mountain Resort with 830 residential units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space.

The resort has said it’s lost nearly $1 million operating in the last 11 years, and it needs the development to survive and fund on-mountain improvements.

But county building and planning director Fred Jarman pointed out that none of the on-mountain improvements were in the planned unit development application and thus wouldn’t be required to be built.

The planning commission voiced concerns over inadequate conditions on Four Mile Road to handle the additional 5,000 vehicle trips per day projected for the development and also the overall size of the development.

“It was disappointing,” said Sunlight’s general manager Tom Jankovsky. “There’s some commissioners I thought would have voted in favor of it.”

Jankovsky said it will be up to the developers to decide what to do next.

“I don’t know where that leaves us exactly,” he said. “We talked as a group, and they really have to decide whether to appeal the decision to the Board of County Commissioners or whether to step back and resubmit.”

Attorney Larry Green, who’s representing the developers, said the developers could either withdraw the application and possibly resubmit plans, or go ahead to the county commission with the Planning Commission’s recommendation for denial. Mike Dooley, operations manager of Florida-based Exquisite Development, said in an e-mail, “We will take the next several days to evaluate our position and move forward.”

Jankovsky said he’s not sure if the developers can scale plans back.

“If you scale it down, then all of a sudden you end up with property up here that’s twice as expensive if you’re going to repair the road and pump water up,” he said. “There’s an economy of scale there.”

Plans included pumping water eight miles up from the Roaring Fork River and adding it back to Four Mile Creek.

County planning staff and the Glenwood Springs City Council recommended denying the proposal. Among the lengthy list of concerns were inadequate conditions on Four Mile Road leading to the resort, a lack of affordable housing and numerous requests for zoning variances. Also of concern was that the development, which could house more than 3,500 people, would be too far from city services like fire and police protection.

Louis Meyer, of the Schmueser Gordon Meyer engineering firm retained by the developers, vowed that as local engineers, the company wouldn’t design unsafe or inadequate roads. He said many of the details would be worked out, and the development is just in a conceptual stage.

Sunlight entered a contract in late 2006 for sale to Exquisite Development. The deal is contingent on winning county approvals for development. The amount is confidential, but the resort went up for sale at a $50 million asking price.

Sunlight and the developers say the real estate would fund on-mountain improvements like new lifts, more terrain, a mountain-top restaurant and more snowmaking. Construction could take 15 years and the redeveloped area would employ around 750 people compared to Sunlight’s current 160 mostly part-time employees.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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