“Would you consider excluding (recreation)?”
The town of Mt. Crested Butte isn’t afraid to stick up for the proposed Snodgrass Mountain terrain expansion by Crested Butte Mountain Resort. On Tuesday, October 21, the Town Council joined the ranks of CBMR and the town’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and agreed to send a letter to the Gunnison Board of County Commissioners voicing their concerns about the potential hurdles the county’s drafted Special Project Development Regulations could place before the proposed expansion.
Earlier this month DDA board member and Mt. Crested Butte resident Jamie Watt came before the council and asked them to consider writing a letter to the county objecting to the Special Project Regulation’s inclusion of provisions for recreational developments. The council decided at the time to hold off writing a letter until after a previously scheduled joint discussion with the county commissioners.
On Wednesday, October 15, the county commissioners and the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council had a joint meeting revolving around a number of issues including economic development and tourism, and they spent a good portion of time discussing the Special Project Regulations.
Gunnison County’s Planning Department and the county attorney have been making revisions to the Special Project Development Regulations over the past year. The regulations were first adopted in 1990 and first revised in 1994. A second draft of the revised regulations was released in late August.
The regulations are intended to address extremely large projects with a significant potential impact on the county’s economy, and draw heavily from the state’s “1041” statute. However, commissioner Hap Channell explained that the regulations base their authority on a number of other statutes.
County planning director Joanne Williams said provisions for recreational developments were added in 1994, “to address expansion of the ski area.”
At the time, Williams said, the Snodgrass expansion would have fallen under the county’s Land Use Regulations, but those were designed to handle subdivision development. Under the old LUR, Williams said, it would have been nearly impossible to approve Snodgrass. Since that time the LUR has been revised to cover a wider range of developments.
But as part of the revision process, Williams said one thing the commissioners should consider was if provisions for recreational developments should be amended, or removed entirely.
Several of the Mt. Crested Butte council members questioned the extra burden the Special Project Development Regulations could place on the approval of the Snodgrass expansion. Councilman Bill Babbitt said, “If it’s even more burdensome and it could take even longer (to get approval) that’s a concern.”
Williams said the Special Project Development Regulations were specifically designed to parallel the federal government’s National Environmental Policy Act process, “so a project that goes through that hopefully doesn’t have to duplicate what they’re already having to go through.”
Babbitt asked if the state required recreational projects to be included, and Williams said no.
“Would you consider excluding it?” Babbitt asked.
Channell replied, “absolutely,” but asked the council to come up with some specific concerns first.
The council resumed the discussion during their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 21. After voicing their concerns to the commissioners the week before, councilman Gary Keiser said he thought the council should wait for the next draft of the regulations before writing a letter.
Mayor William Buck disagreed and said, “I don’t think it’s a bad idea to go on record with our feelings.” Buck said the letter should inform the county of the town’s concern about recreational provisions and ask to be kept informed during the rest of the revision process.
Town manager Joe Fitzpatrick agreed that sending a letter now would be a good idea.
Councilman Dave Clayton said the release of third draft would be a good time to present the county with more detailed concerns. He reminded the council that the commissioners had asked for specific objections. “They don’t want a 30,000-foot flyover of the whole document,” Clayton said.
Clayton moved to have the town staff draft a letter, which the mayor would sign. The council voted unanimously to send the letter stating they were concerned about the inclusion of provisions for recreational development.
Councilmen Babbitt and Mike Kube were absent from the meeting.
The county has not set a date for when the third draft of the regulations will be released.