Summit County kills Copper expansion
Summit County Commissioners Bill Wallace and Tom Long shot down Intrawest’s plan to double the size of Copper Mountain Monday when they voted to deny the ski company’s long-term development plan.Intrawest sought land-use approval of 1,155 additional residential units at Copper Mountain, on top of 500 units it has already permission to build. The plan also would have added 150,000 square feet of commercial space. Intrawest’s application for what is called its “Comprehensive Development Strategy” wandered through the county planning process for three years before the 2-0 vote killed the project. “We were very surprised at the decision made today,” said Intrawest spokesman Matt Sugar.
In the last few months, Intrawest’s development proposal morphed into a political hot button as the proposal finally reached the county commissioners and awareness grew that it would double the size of the resort.While the county was not requiring the ski company to transfer development rights elsewhere in the county to obtain the extra density, planners and area residents suggested developer participate in such a deal.It is unclear whether Intrawest will make another go at expanding Copper. While it still has 500 units to develop, the resort company had its sights on broader development. The company maintains it needs the added density to keep the resort profitable. “At this point in the process we are definitely going to talk amongst ourselves; given that it was a surprise we’ll have to discuss and figure out what to do from this point,” Sugar said. “We’re not going to make a hasty decision,” he replied when asked if the company would pull out of Copper all together. “We’re going to be thoughtful and carefully consider what to do.”Longtime Copper Mountain homeowner and businessman Tom Malmgren said he was surprised but not disappointed at the decision.
“It’s a shame we went through this process and, in my opinion, the developer didn’t listen intently to the feedback,” he said. “(Intrawest) certainly had signals coming back in the last few months.”In looking to the future of Copper Mountain, Malmgren expected Intrawest to step back and re-examine its goals. “I personally don’t think the plan submitted was the best it could be,” he said. “Intrawest has done a lot of wonderful things at Copper since it arrived on scene; many things that needed to be done. But what it submitted far exceeded what our little village can sustain.”The recent replacement of Gary Lindstrom on the Summit County board of commissioners with resident Bob French appears to have had some effect on the final vote. Lindstrom, who is running for the state House of Representatives against Eagle County resident Heather Lemon, was recently appointment to finish the term of former Rep. Carl Miller. Wallace, Long and Lindstrom in June submitted their concerns with Intrawest’s expansion plans.
“By their own statement, they told us they would give us an answer to those questions and then they turn around and say, ‘Geez, you’ve got a new guy up there, so we don’t have to respond,'” Long said.”That’s pretty frustrating. We had real concerns, we highlighted those and there seemed to be reluctance to react to any of our concerns. At some point in time, you have to draw the line,” he added.Sugar said the company did not respond to the commissioners’ concerns, but instead wanted to make a sincere effort to review the proposal with French. But some citizens said the company was stalling.Copper resident Gary Bell said the process was hard on homeowners because many are second-home owners who do not live in the area full time. “The volume of material to read, the volume of density, the volume of problems was overwhelming,” he said.