Reject Sunlight redevelopment plan, GarCo staff says

Residential proposal causes concern, with matter to go before planning commission

The Garfield County Building and Planning department is recommending that the county reject a proposed redevelopment of Sunlight Mountain Resort that would include 820 residential units.

“This property is surrounded by low density and open space and a density of this size is completely out of scale with the surrounding area,” the department says in a report issued for consideration by the county planning commission, which is scheduled to review the proposal Wednesday night.

The planning staff is urging the commission to deny the developers’ request to amend the county’s comprehensive plan for the property from low-density residential to recreation. The project would create a population of 3,643 people, larger than Silt, New Castle or Parachute’s 2007 populations, planners say.

County planners say the project fails to meet the traffic and infrastructure needs it would create, suffers from slope and soil constraints, and would be too far from urban services.

They also say county rules require the project to provide 83 affordable housing units subject to county regulation, rather than the 50 unregulated employee housing units developers are proposing.

Planners also cite concerns about adequacy of fire protection, parking and water supplies. The State Engineer’s office has said the proposed water supply would cause material injury to decreed water rights, and some water interests in the area have raised legal objections to the proposal.

Richard Schafstall, president and chairman of Sunlight’s current ownership group, said he was surprised and disappointed by the county planners’ recommendation.

“If that’s what it is, then we’ve got to look at the reasons and see if we can address those,” he said.

Sunlight is under contract to be sold to Florida-based Exquisite Development, conditional on receiving county approval of its project.

Project representative Mike Dooley appeared earlier this month before Glenwood Springs City Council, which has no approval authority over the project. Council members called the proposal inadequate in its current form and said it poses major concerns about possible traffic and housing impacts on the city.

Developers also raised eyebrows locally when they let go of their local legal, engineering and land planning consultants a few weeks ago. Dooley said that’s his company’s standard practice once a project is ready for government review. However, Schafstall said the developers have come to realize things are done differently in Colorado, and he believes the developers have since rehired their local consulting team for the county review.


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