base village

View of the exterior of Snowmass Base Village on Tuesday. Town Council’s scrutiny of the plan this week included a discussion about standards for review of the application amendment.

Standards of review for applications overseen by the town of Snowmass Village staff and its planning commission were a point of interest for at least one elected official on Monday evening, as the Snowmass Village Town Council began its review of an amendment to the Base Village plan. 

It is anticipated that town council will take several meetings to study and discuss the current proposal by Snowmass Ventures, the development entity for East West Partners that is developing the remainder of Base Village.

Councilmember Alyssa Shenk asked a question about the review process and review standards toward the end of the meeting that could prove to be the difference between the amendment being approved or denied. 

“When you look at the comments by the staff — and they say that it’s not identical to what has been approved but it’s compatible — and then you look at the planning commission that was divided, it’s really hard for me to understand how something can fail on one standard but then pass overall,” said Shenk.

According to Snowmass Village’s town code, in order for the proposal to be approved as a minor amendment, the application must meet four requirements: it must be consistent with the original planned unit development; have no substantially adverse impact; cannot change the existing character of the area; and it must comply with other applicable standards.

The amendment was approved by the Snowmass Planning Commission, but there was a diversity of opinions on whether or not the proposal was consistent with the town’s review standards.

Several members of the planning commission voiced their shared opinion that the amendment was not consistent with the review standards because of the proposal’s impacts on the Enclave, which sits directly south, uphill from Base Village across Wood Road.   

John Dresser, Snowmass Village’s town attorney, answered Shenk’s question by pointing out that the planning commission is an advisory body, while town council is a deliberative body acting in a quasi-judicial role. 

It is appropriate, then, for the planning commission to voice their diversity of opinions, but the town council will listen to the presentations and either approve or deny the application with one voice.     

According to Andy Gunion, managing partner of Snowmass Ventures, the development company would like to alter the existing Base Village approvals for a number of reasons. The uncertainty in the world because of the novel coronavirus has created uncertainty in people’s travel plans and their real estate purchases. As a result, Snowmass Ventures would like to add some flexibility into the process. 

The company has indicated it would like to agree with the town on where the buildings are going to go, how tall they will be and how much square footage each building will inhabit — but they would like some flexibility on the number of units, the size of those units and the overall design of that building.

The amendment also asks for changes in parking, extending the vesting period for Base Village another five years to 2029 (for a total of 25 years) and relocating two buildings. The last request may garner the most discussion.

The developer would like to shift Building 10A closer to Wood Road and realign Building 11 lengthwise along Wood Road — rather than building it perpendicular to the street, as it is currently approved. 

The end result of both of those shifts creates a larger open area within Base Village, where a new plaza and pool will be located. The aqua feature has been an issue for existing Base Village residents because it was featured in the original approvals, then not built for a number of reasons. Among them was the fact that the town subsequently built a town pool and recreation center at the town park.

In 2015, the president of the Enclave homeowners’ association met with members of the Related Companies — who owned Base Village at that time — and came to an agreement on the siting of Buildings 10A, 10B and 11 that they felt lessened the impacts from Base Village on the Enclave homeowners. 

The current proposal moves those buildings, and as a result, the Enclave homeowners are once again concerned about the overall impacts of the development.   

In his discussion this week with Shenk, Dresser pointed out that even if town council denies the current amendment by Snowmass Ventures, there are still underlying approvals that have been previously granted for those three buildings, and it will be up to town council to weigh the current proposal against that previously approved plan.

Michael Hoffman, an attorney representing the Enclave homeowners, opined that if the proposal is approved, then it will create a “canyon-like effect” on Wood Road since there would be a line of buildings extending from the mini-roundabout all the way up the road until after the Enclave. He also feels that pulling the Base Village buildings “30 to 50 feet” closer to Wood Road would have several visual and other impacts on the Enclave. 

How town council rules on this issue will more than likely determine whether the amendment is approved or denied in its current form.

The town council is anticipated to take several meetings to determine the outcome of this amendment. The next meeting scheduled to discuss the issue is Aug. 17. Watch the town council meetings live from town hall or view them online