Glenwood council opposes Sunlight plan

Board says expansion proposal inadequate in current form

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS — City Council members Thursday night called on Garfield County to reject approval of a proposed redevelopment of Sunlight Mountain Resort.

The council passed a motion in opposition to the proposal by a 7-0 vote. They said it is inadequate in its current form and raises major concerns about potential traffic and housing impacts on the city closest to the resort.

In earlier memos by city staff members, and in often-pointed criticism by city council members Thursday night, they worried about what the proposed project might mean for the city.

“This is going to have enormous impacts to our city. It’s going to be beneficial impacts and adverse impacts.

We need to balance those as we move forward,” council member Dave Merritt told a development representative during an informal review of the project.

Sunlight went under contract to be sold to Florida-based Exquisite Development, conditional on receiving county approval of a project to build 830 housing and lodging units and make major lift, snowmaking and other improvements at the resort.

City officials say the project lacks adequate affordable housing and might not contribute enough financially to help mitigate the impacts of the added traffic it would bring to town.

The project proposes to include 50 employee rental housing units. But project representative Mike Dooley said it could create as many as 750 jobs. Council members are worried about where those workers would live, given the lack of affordable housing in the Glenwood Springs area.

The project is scheduled to undergo formal review by the Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission Sept. 24. The city had asked the project developers to agree to a joint review that also would involve the city, but was turned down.

Council member Russ Arensman said he was disappointed in the lack of information in Dooley’s responses to council questions Thursday.

“There’s a lot of concerns, and I’m not hearing any real answers,” he said.

But he and other council members hope the proposal can be refined to address their concerns.

“We want to see you succeed, so I’m pulling for you,” Arensman said.

Following council’s vote, Dooley said developers would have to take a closer look at the council members’ concerns. He said they also could take a second look at whether to agree to some sort of joint review.

Dooley said developers also face another challenge in the current problems in the nation’s real estate lending markets.

“I think the biggest issue will be finding the financing part,” he said.


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