Sunlight developers mull options after rezoning request is rejected

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The would-be redevelopers of Sunlight Mountain Resort may have to consider the idea of a “Sunlight Lite” project after a county panel’s decision late Wednesday night.

The Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously rejected a rezoning proposal for 830 housing units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space at the ski area outside Glenwood Springs.

Some of the commissioners worried that the project may be simply too big.

The commission’s vote is only a recommendation, and developers could ask Garfield County commissioners to approve their plan. But county building and planning director Fred Jarman said it would be hard for county commissioners to ignore recommendations by the planning commission, county planning staff and the city of Glenwood Springs that the project be denied.

Sunlight is under contract to be sold to Sunlight Mountain Development LLC, a Florida-based developer.

The sale is contingent on the developers winning approval for a base village project.

A developer representative said late Wednesday the company would have to evaluate its options. Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky said how to proceed is up to the developers, but it probably wouldn’t make sense to seek approval for the project from county commissioners without making some concessions to address concerns that have been raised. At the least, he said, some of the questions brought up by Jarman need to be answered.

Jarman has pointed to what he believes to be numerous deficiencies in the project, in areas such as road improvements, affordable housing, parking and fire protection.

Scott Fifer, who lives off Four Mile Road, the access route to Sunlight, has said the proposed development doesn’t include adequate measures to offset traffic impacts. He thinks a smaller-scale project would be a better fit for the area and be more likely to win approval.

“I think all of us, myself included, want to see Sunlight Resort succeed. It’s important to the community,” he said.

But Jankovsky said the question is whether a smaller project would still provide the economies of scale needed to cover fixed infrastructure costs.

Sunlight’s current owners say the resort’s long-term survival hinges on a base village development that would generate revenue needed to make badly needed lift, snowmaking and other upgrades on the mountain.

But Jarman worries about the fact that the current proposal includes no on-mountain improvements, meaning there’s no guarantee they would occur if the real estate development wins approval.

“It should all be one big package,” he said.


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