Garfield County staff recommends denial of new Sunlight Mountain Resort development plan | PostIndependent.com
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Garfield County staff recommends denial of new Sunlight Mountain Resort development plan

Pete FowlerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GARFIELD COUNTY, Colorado – A county staff recommendation to deny redevelopment plans for Sunlight Mountain Resort could be a large icy mogul blocking the path of the resort’s Florida-based developers.Current plans are up for review by the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday. They include on-mountain improvements like new lifts, more terrain, increased snowmaking and a mountain-top restaurant; 830 residential units; and about 110,000 square feet of commercial space and water pumped uphill from the Roaring Fork River. About 50 of the residential units would go for employee housing.The county’s building and planning department recommends the planning commission deny the planned unit development application. Among the concerns are slope constraints, soil instability, land use incompatibility, traffic and road conditions, infrastructure needs and distance from urban services.The developers request a change to the county’s comprehensive plan for part of the 468-acre property from low density residential to recreation. Developers also are requesting zoning changes from agricultural residential rural density and commercial limited to planned unit development.”Uses proposed in the development vary widely from residential to commercial,” a report from county staff says.The report adds that the property is surrounded by low density and open space, and density in the proposal is “completely out of character with the surrounding area.”County staff also worried the ski resort improvements would be eclipsed by residential and commercial development, and the developer might not build many of the on-mountain improvements since they are not formally part of the PUD application.”There are virtually no ‘on-mountain’ improvements … that are a part of this PUD and are thus only at the whim of the developer to be developed only with Forest Service permits,” the report states.Glenwood Springs asked the county planning commission to deny the proposal due to what they called inadequacies of planning for traffic, housing, safety and other impacts. The Glenwood Springs Fire Department said that the redeveloped Sunlight would create a population of more than 3,000, and the expectation that the area could be served by current fire stations “is not in the best interests of visitors or residents of the area.”The Colorado Division of Wildlife found the proposed development will impact calving elk herds and is likely to negatively impact wildlife. The state engineer also found that the planned water supply is “inadequate” and would conflict with existing water rights, the report says. The plan also caused concern over soil stability and traffic impacts. A traffic forecast says 9,295 vehicles per day would drive over lower Four Mile Road if the plan went through – an increase of almost 5,000 vehicles per day compared to the forecast without Sunlight’s redevelopment. County staff also said proposed improvements to Four Mile Road don’t meet county standards.”In its present condition, (Four Mile Road) cannot sustain the volume of traffic which would result from the proposed residential/commercial development,” the report states.The sale of Sunlight to Florida-based Exquisite Development rides on obtaining county approvals for development. The amount was confidential, but the property went up for sale with an asking price of $50 million. Sunlight sees fewer skier days than it did in the late 1990s and has decided it can no longer survive only on business from its existing loyal customers.Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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