Sunlight debate continues |

Sunlight debate continues

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Garfield County Planning Commission did not vote on a planned unit development application to put an 830-unit base village near Sunlight Mountain Resort before a press deadline Wednesday night.

The commission was still taking public comments after 10:30 p.m.

County Building and Planning director Fred Jarman cited a number of concerns over inadequate roads and lack of affordable housing and pointed out numerous zoning variances that the developer was asking for. In one example, he said, the application called for a dead-end cul-de-sac over 3,000 feet long in an area rated with a higher than moderate wildfire danger. The standard is 600 feet.

Jarman said the developer requested a reduction in the number of required parking spaces from 4,460 to 1,801. The developer also asked for a variance reducing a 10 percent deed restricted affordable housing requirement that would be county regulated to 50 units of employee housing, Jarman said.

Jarman also said traffic projections in the application seem to be “under-reported.”

“Developments of this size really ought to be down where the existing commercial infrastructure exists,” Jarman said.

Louis Meyer, of the Schmueser, Gordon and Meyer engineering firm, said the proposal is in a conceptual stage and the project’s intent is to form a metropolitan district with emergency services, water and wastewater service and internal road maintenance. He added that many details will be worked out and the developers would rebuild Four Mile Road up from Black Diamond Curve for about $10 million.

He said developers would work to offset traffic impacts at intersections in Glenwood Springs.

“The county has done three or four studies in the past 20 years,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot more than doing studies to improve this road.”

Glenwood Springs and county planning staff recommended denying the proposed expansion. They said developers inadequately examined impacts like traffic, road conditions, housing and public safety and the development, which could house over 3,500 people, would be too far from city services like fire and police protection.

Sunlight has said it lost almost $1 million operating in the last 11 years and needs the development to survive and fund on-mountain improvements.

The Planning Commission voted 4-2 on Oct. 1 to approve the developer’s request to change low density residential designations at the base of Sunlight to recreation in the county’s comprehensive plan. The vote was required before the Planning Commission could hear the planned unit development (PUD) application for the proposed Sunlight expansion. Developers were asking Wednesday night for rezoning from agricultural/residential/rural density and commercial limited to a PUD.

Sunlight entered a contract in late 2006 for sale to Florida-based 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.

The PUD includes 830 residential units, 50 of which would go for employee housing, plus 110,000 square feet of commercial space. The development is meant to 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 is expected to employ around 750 people compared to Sunlight’s current 160 mostly part-time employees.

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121

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