Where will 2008 take us?

Another year is behind us and we’ve spent the last few days reminiscing about what we’ve accomplished in 2007. Now it’s time to look forward to what 2008 will likely bring the Gunnison Valley.
The area’s agenda is rather full with several big issues coming to light in 2008 in the towns of Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte and Gunnison County.
Specifically, townspeople will continue their dogged defiance of mining plans on Mt. Emmons, also known as Red Lady. U.S. Energy and Kobex Resources have stated they intend to submit their plan of operations to the U.S. Forest Service for the proposed molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons in the first quarter of 2008. The plan will allow local entities fighting the proposal to get an official look at what these mining companies want to do and how they are proposing to accomplish it.
The year should also bring the maturation of the Red Lady Coalition, which logged its first victory in 2007 but has yet to fully define itself in the public eye. Hopefully, the organization, along with the veteran High Country Citizens’ Alliance, will be able to capitalize on intense civic vigor against the mine proposal that emerged in 2007.
In addition, the town of Crested Butte is expecting to see its first major annexation proposal in 2008 since the Verzuh Annexation almost ten years ago. A pre-annexation application was submitted on behalf of Fairways GH Paradise, LLC and Spann Ranches calling for a 70-acre annexation for mostly residential development located just north of town on Highway 135.
The town has also committed to start re-working some troublesome guidelines administered by the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review, although the new rules won’t likely be finished until 2009.
In Mt. Crested Butte, Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) has a bevy of plans for the 2008 year, as outlined by reporter Evan Dawson’s story on page 12 of this edition. Most notably, the resort is awaiting a Forest Service decision on its Main Mountain plan in 2008. The resort may also break ground on two new buildings, the Cimarron building in the base area and the Red Lady Lodge at the top of the Red Lady Express chairlift.
This year may also bring the debate over whether CBMR should be allowed to expand onto publicly owned Snodgrass Mountain further into the forefront. CBMR is anticipating a United States Geological Survey decision on a geology study it submitted in 2007, contradicting some of the government’s findings about the stability of Snodgrass Mountain. If the USGS and CBMR agree, the resort will submit expansion plans to the U.S. Forest Service and enter the National Environmental Policy Act process.
At the county level, Gunnison County commissioners have a full slate as well. The county has already launched a review of its regulations for major developments—rules that will govern any ski area expansion onto Snodgrass Mountain and U.S. Energy/ Kobex’s mining plans. With several work sessions planned, those revamped rules may be completed in 2008.
In addition, the county is looking at taking another step forward in providing affordable housing for its residents this year. Commissioners are looking at adopting inclusionary housing requirements, which will obligate developers to set aside portions of their projects for affordable housing.
2008 will bring its fair share of campaigning as well. In addition to the presidential and state races, locally three seats on the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council held by Chris Morgan, Danny D’Aquila and Tom Steuer are up for election in April 2008 and county commissioners Hap Channell and Paula Swenson’s seats are up for election in November.
It’s clear that our officials have their work cut out for them this year. But this workload must be shared across the community—therefore, I hope 2008 will be the year of even more citizen involvement in these important decisions.
Stay tuned and stay involved.
—Aleesha Towns

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