Minturn officials are still working to de-annex the Battle Mountain property
There's little precedent in Colorado to de-annex property, and this deal is complicated
- 2004: Developer Bobby Ginn first proposes a private ski area on Battle Mountain.
- 2008: Minturn voters — 87% of them —approve the basics of the plan.
- 2009: Ginn loses control of the property.
- 2019: Minturn rejects a proposal that would upgrade the town’s water system and clear the way for a roughly 700-unit development near Bolts Lake.
MINTURN — Minturn and the developers of the proposed Battle Mountain project are learning as they go working on a de-annexation request from the developers.
After the Minturn Town Council in August rejected a proposed water deal, the council in October gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that approved the disconnection of a portion of the 4,300-acre property.
The council on Wednesday tabled a final reading of that ordinance. The next possible hearing date is Jan. 15. Don’t be surprised if the ordinance is tabled then.
Minturn Town Council member Earle Bidez said “a lot of work” remains before the de-annexation — which came at the request of the developer — could be finalized.
Bidez said more than just removing land — about 644 acres stretching from Maloit Park to the abandoned mining town of Gilman — there’s also the matter of disposing of a number of other agreements that have been forged since a plan to build a ski resort community was first proposed in 2004 by Florida-based developer Bobby Ginn.
That process occupied countless hours of staff and council time. The proposal in 2008 also went to a special election, and about 87% of town voters approved the idea.
But Ginn’s company fell on hard times shortly after that vote, and the property was then taken over by the private investment firm that financed Ginn.
Since then, there have been a number of proposals, and further agreements.
Just some of those agreements fill a three-ring binder about four inches thick, Bidez said.
“Water’s the most difficult” of those agreements, he added. “We’re trying to get through the point of coming up with an agreement about how to go through those agreements.”
In addition to those discussions, Bidez said the Battle Mountain developers are also continuing to talk to residents. Resident buy-in to any agreement is essential, Bidez said, noting that it takes just 50 valid petition signatures to force a special election on virtually any topic.
With that in mind, Bidez said he expects the disconnection to be completed at some point.
County route might not be easier
If that happens, Battle Mountain will need approval from Eagle County for any possible development on the de-annexed property.
Former Minturn Mayor Matt Scherr is now an Eagle County Commissioner.
Scherr noted that during his tenure on the Minturn Town Council, he’d asked that board to imagine what might happen if all or part of the Battle Mountain property was de-annexed from the town.
But a development proposal to the county might not have an easier route to approval.
Scherr said counties “philosophically want development in municipalities.” He noted that Pitkin County doesn’t allow “planned unit developments” — developments that vary from existing zoning — inside of towns’ defined growth boundaries. Eagle County doesn’t have that rule.
But developers must comply with the county’s current land-use codes and regulations.
Ultimately, Scherr said, decisions about developments asking for variances in existing rules are ultimately made by the commissioners, but not before residents, the county’s planning commission and, in some cases, town governments, have their say.
“There’s no greater certainty going to the county than to Minturn,” Scherr said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2930.
For downvalley humans, it’s pretty cool when elk decide to hunker down around Eagle for the winter. For the elk, it’s more of a lesser-of-two-evils situation.