Sunlight plan is a big one |

Sunlight plan is a big one

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Eight-hundred residences and lodging units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space would be built at Sunlight Mountain Resort under a proposal it has submitted for review by Garfield County.The proposal also includes an estimated $10 million in improvements to Four Mile Road from Dry Park Road to the resort. Sunlight is projecting that it would generate 2,384 daily vehicle trips upon completion of the first third of the project in 2012, and a total of 4,644 trips by the project’s completion in 2027.The resort also hopes to increase skier capacity from 1,300 to 3,600 a day. Proposed mountain improvements include construction of a high-speed, bottom-to-top quad “Primo Express” lift and an East Ridge lift, and boosting snowmaking from 10 acres to 120. Those improvements are contingent on approval from the U.S. Forest Service because the ski area is partly located on forest land.Sunlight also claims that it isn’t subject to the county requirement that 10 percent of its housing units be affordable. However, it is committing to provide 50 employee housing units.

It’s also asking to be allowed to provide substantially fewer parking spaces than county rules require for a project of its size.The resort’s redevelopment plan generally conforms to what it laid out during recent informal open houses where it asked for public comment.Introductory remarks in Sunlight’s submittal to the county also acknowledge its hopes of respecting its longtime local skier base while making changes it says are crucial to its long-term survival.”The owners of Sunlight Mountain Resort and their project management team aspire to create a village that is a year-round mountain playground where locals want to visit as much as visitors. Sunlight Mountain Resort will be a place to gather and interact with nature – a place where the past is respected and the future ensured,” the application states.Sunlight points out that it had 100,000 skier visits in 1997 and only 75,000 last year. Seventy percent of its revenues come from weekends and holidays.The resort is hoping to boost midweek business and become more of a year-round resort. It contends the base development is necessary to make the mountain improvements feasible. It is under contract to be sold for an undisclosed amount to Exquisite Development, a Florida company. The sale is contingent on gaining county approval of its plans.Sunlight says in its application that its local project team envisions “a place that is welcoming, real, and friendly enough to be supported by those who would rather not see Sunlight change while appealing to more of those who want it to change just enough to plant their souls here.”

The Sunlight project would occur on 443 acres, of which 313 would remain open space. It actually would consist of two separate developments. Compass Peak would total almost 300 acres, bisected by Four Mile Creek. Nine neighborhoods would have a total of 576 units, including the employee housing.The units would be a mix of residential, hotel, multifamily, condominium and fractional ownership properties. They would include six single-family homes, 27 duplexes and 542 multifamily units, and 75,000 square feet of commercial space.Compass Peak would include a lift connection to the mountain base. It would be built out over 15 years, with 369 units and the lift connection not constructed until the final of three phases.Williams Peak would be nearly 150 acres and would be built over eight years. Its eight neighborhoods would include 224 units, including 73 single-family homes, 68 duplexes, 83 multifamily units, 20,000 square feet of commercial space and a 5,000-square-foot outdoor recreation center.Sunlight is proposing 432 parking spaces at Williams Peak, compared to the 1,075 the county normally would require for a project that size, and 1,359 for Compass Peak, versus the more than 2,460 the county normally would require. It argues that a partial waiver is warranted for reasons such as the belief that the commercial businesses will be patronized largely by those already at the resort, rather than the public at large.The development would occur partly on Sunlight land, which has a “recreation” designation under the county’s comprehensive plan, and partly on land designated low-density residential and owned by Leonard Lorentson. However, Sunlight is contending that Lorentson, a majority owner of the resort, should have had a recreation designation all along for his land.It argues that the county’s affordable housing requirement applies only when a change in housing density is being sought, and that that’s not the case for the resort.Sunlight says its plans to pave, widen and install five miles of guardrail on the shoulders of Four Mile Road would cost twice what the county would receive under its traffic impact fee formula for the project. It also says that even with the project, total traffic volume would reach 8,800 daily trips, and the road has a capacity of 11,700 trips.If the proposed south bridge project to provide new access between Four Mile Road and Highway 82 doesn’t happen, the project would require more lanes on the Sunlight Bridge in Glenwood Springs and improvements of the 27th Street intersections on each side of it, Sunlight’s traffic consultants found.By the time the project is complete, traffic would double on Four Mile Road just above the intersection at Midland Avenue.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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