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Former mayor ‘concerned’ about Copper

Kim Marquis
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk The former mayor of Breckenridge has warned that expansion plans to Copper Mountain, shown above, could "overwhelm" the Summit County.
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Former Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula is concerned whether future development proposed at Copper Mountain will “overwhelm” Summit County.

Mamula, who cites county policies that encourage limiting density, said it is “unbelievable” that resort-owner Intrawest would request a density increase under the community’s current posture on growth.

“The consensus has been that we need to curtail growth,” Mamula said.

Before he left office in April, Mamula put his concerns in writing to the Board of County Commissioners.

Intrawest is proposing to increase residential density by 1,155 units beyond what is currently allowed. In addition, the company plans to build 150,000 square feet of commercial space at the resort.

Mamula was mayor of Breckenridge in 2000 when Vail Resorts went through the planning process for a base area development at Breckenridge Ski Resort’s Peaks 7 and 8. “Our negotiations with Vail Resorts at Breckenridge had been on the basis of them significantly decreasing density,” Mamula said.

“We felt it was something the (Summit) county commissioners supported,” he said. “We assumed it was the countywide strategy.”

In his letter to the Summit County Board of Commissioners, dated March 29, Mamula said the sheer size of development at Copper could “overwhelm” nearby towns and unincorporated areas.

“More development does not mean more business,” Mamula said Friday. “We have to find ways to support the existing businesses in our community. It’s a matter of reality that we have more than enough commercial space. We’ve had more growth in square footage than in sales tax revenues.”

The letter reviews the final agreement on the Peaks 7 and 8 expansion, noting that there was a “substantial” reduction in density and a “minimal” amount of commercial space.

“These compromises were considered crucial to maintaining the sustainability of the town and county, particularly the town of Breckenridge commercial core, while still allowing a reasonable amount of development,” the letter reads.

On Friday, Mamula, who recognized he no longer has an official influence on politics, said the county needs to consider growth carefully and questioned if there were enough natural resources to support continued development such as that proposed at Copper.

“Does the county have enough water, for example, even for the amount of development on the books right now?” he said. “Development can either impact us positively or negatively, so to say they’re not going to decrease density but increase it – that’s unbelievable.

Mamula also said allowing Intrawest to build more could encourage Vail Resorts to seek similar approvals at Keystone.


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