Copper expansion plan making progress
Intrawest has ambitious plans to double development at Copper Mountain. What will Summit County residents get out of it?
Better health care and a safe biking route over Swan Mountain.
Intrawest officials went before the Summit County Board of County Commissioners with the latest round of changes to its long-term build-out plan for Copper Mountain, which would add about 1,150 units of condos, single-family homes and hotel rooms, as well as commercial, recreational and cultural facilities.
“We heard your concerns about density, day-skier parking, public benefits and safety along Copper Road,” said Intrawest vice president Joe Whitehouse. “I’d like to thank you for your guidance, because this process has created a better plan.”
The plan’s residential density has been a sticking point with the county commissioners and some Copper residents. The county commissioners have indicated that Intrawest would need to provide substantial public benefits to earn the go-ahead for substantial development.
In response, Whitehouse offered funding for Summit County’s Community Care Clinic and the proposed Swan Mountain Recreation Path.
“As our nation continues to struggle with escalating health care costs, and more people fall through the cracks of our current health care system, this clinic has been vital to helping Summit County families obtain access to the health care they need,” Whitehouse said.
Intrawest offered to donate $250,000 to launch an endowment campaign for the clinic. In addition to the initial donation, the resort would hold an annual fund-raising event to increase the endowment.
Whitehouse proposed a $350,000 contribution to offset the construction costs of the rec path, which are estimated at about $11.8 million if all four segments are built.
Attendees of a recent commissioner’s meeting said the public benefits should be located in Copper, not spread throughout the county.
“The impact is in Copper, the benefit should be in Copper,” said one man.
Commissioner Bill Wallace disagreed: “I feel the need to look at Summit County as a community, not as five, six or seven entities separate from one another.
“If Intrawest comes forward with a public benefit, I think we have to take a look at that,” he said.
Other public benefits in the plan include a new chapel, a new fire station, 30 affordable housing units and land for an expansive performing arts facility.
Intrawest’s latest version of the development plan also called for more modest density increases and more space for parking – two of the commissioners’ top concerns.
Intrawest reduced its requested number of units by 10.5 percent, but Wallace was still unwilling to give the plan his endorsement.
“I still have an issue with the density,” Wallace said. “As a county commissioner today, I have a hard time accepting an analysis that looks so far into the future. I’d rather approve half of it and leave the rest to future county commissioners.”
Intrawest also bumped up its proposed number of parking spaces from 3,400 to 3,800. Whitehouse said the resort has only exceeded that number of vehicles three times this year, but that didn’t console Commissioner Tom Long.
“You said you’ve only exceeded that three times this year, but I have a feeling that will change this month,” Long said. “It looks like we’re taking something that we know is a problem and we’re going to make it worse in the future.”
Intrawest officials had hoped to win the commissioners’ blessing for the plan on at the recent meeting and work out the remaining details in the months ahead.
“Nice try, but no cigar,” said Commissioner Gary Lindstrom. “The (commissioners) can’t endorse this plan today. We can tell you it looks good. I think we’ve got 60 days to hash this over and see if there is anything else that needs to be addressed. We want you to know we could disapprove the plan in May.”
Intrawest will go before the commissioners again on May 10.