Sunlight incorporation proposed

Move would help development proposal, GarCo candidates say

Democratic Garfield County Commission candidate Steve Carter says if an urban area is created at Sunlight Mountain Resort, it should be incorporated as a town to properly address the impacts.

Carter’s Republican opponent, Mike Samson, agrees. And one of the two probably will help decide the fate of a proposed development that would include 830 residential and lodging units, along with 110,000 square feet of commercial space.

Fred Jarman, Garfield County’s building and planning director, also likes the concept of incorporation and said county planning staff have suggested it to Sunlight developers “because of all of the needs that community is going to require.”

Neither developer representative Mike Dooley nor the local attorney on the project, Larry Green, could be reached for comment.

Sunlight is under contract to be sold to Sunlight Mountain Development LLC, a Florida-based developer. The sale is contingent on the developer winning approval for a base village.

Jarman has recommended denial of the project, in part because of concerns about building a development with a population akin to New Castle’s in a rural area. However, the Garfield County
Planning and Zoning Commission recently agreed to change the county’s comprehensive plan designation at Sunlight from low-density residential to recreation to accommodate the proposal. The commission is scheduled to consider the details of the development proposal itself Nov. 12.

The project ultimately would require approval by county commissioners and, presumably, won’t be considered by commissioners until either Carter or Samson takes office in January.
Incumbent Republican John Martin and his Democratic challenger, Stephen Bershenyi, declined in a debate in Rifle Tuesday to discuss specifics about the Sunlight project. They said it would be inappropriate to comment because one of them may end up having to consider it in what would be a quasi-judicial capacity.

Carter said he also couldn’t say much about the project. But besides suggesting incorporation, he said the city of Glenwood Springs should have been granted some role in reviewing the project because of the impacts it will have on the nearby city. Samson said he agreed on both points.

Carter pointed to Snowmass Village, and Jarman to Mount Crested Butte, as other base villages that incorporated. That helped them provide police, firefighting and other services, and gave them control over those services, rather than relying on the county to provide them.

“Don’t try to use other mechanisms to do what a town should do,” Carter said in an interview.


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