Minturn councilors explain private resort | VailDaily.com
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Minturn councilors explain private resort

Steve LynnVAIL CO, COLORADO

MINTURN The meeting was like a news conference, except Minturn residents were the ones asking town councilors questions about a proposed private ski resort. Residents asked questions ranging from what a proposed waste-water treatment plant might look like to what kind of recourse the town has if too many trucks go through the town during construction of the Ginn Development Co.s ski resort.Ginn wants to build 1,700 homes and condominiums, a private ski resort and a golf course south of downtown Minturn. Town councilors unanimously voted two weeks ago to annex 4,300 acres of land owned by Ginn into Minturn in what Mayor Gordon Hawkeye Flaherty called the heart of the agreement. Town councilors will vote again, possibly later this year, to finally approve or deny the project.Councilors have not been able to talk about the development outside public hearings due to state law forbidding ex parte communication, so Tuesday nights meeting was the first time councilors spoke in detail about the project to residents.

Asked to explain their votes Tuesday night, town councilors stuck to their contention that development on the private property was certain. Red Cliff or Eagle County could have made a deal with Ginn, they said.That would have left Minturn without control of traffic and wildlife, and the town would have lost revenue for a recreation center, a library and a bike path that will stretch from at least Minturn to Red Cliff.The bike path may stretch from Dowd junction to Red Cliff, Town Councilwoman Kelly Brinkerhoff said. Were pretty confident we can get the whole thing done, she said. The town also gets $3.5 million from Ginn for elk habitat in the area, and more than $20 million to buy U.S. Forest Service land, councilors said.If town councilors had failed to annex the land into cash-strapped Minturn, Town Councilman Tom Sullivan said Eagle County could have bought the Forest Service land and might have built affordable housing on it. Instead, that land can now be used to build affordable housing for Minturn residents. Minturn can withhold building permits from Ginn if the company exceeds the number of trucks it has said will go through Minturn when it builds the ski resort, councilors said. Ginns trucks also cannot go through the town on Sundays without special permission.If Minturn had failed to annex, we would still have all that traffic and no way to control it, Brinkerhoff said.

Minturn residents were skeptical about a roughly $23 million wastewater treatment plant paid for by Ginn that will help Minturn regain some of its water rights. Councilors dont know yet exactly where it will be built. Ryan Demmy Bidwell, executive director of Durango-based environmental group Colorado Wild, said councilors should have waited for the Environmental Protection Agency to approve Ginns cleanup of mine waste on the property and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services input on wildlife. We continue to have real concerns about this project, he said. Councilors explained that Ginn could not go forward with its plans to develop the area without approval from the federal agencies. The meeting was informative, said Frank Lorenti, who has submitted a petition to the town that he hopes will lead to a referendum. However, he still has questions about Ginn, he said. I think we need to spend more time going over these things, he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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