After four days of hearings, the District 1 Environmental Commission needs more information before ruling on an Act 250 land use permit for the proposed Killington ski village.
The three-member commission is seeking additional information from SP Land Co. and its plans to develop a village at the base of the ski area with an estimated price tag of $133.4 million.
“Overall, I’m very positive,” said SP Land President Steve Selbo. “We were pleased with the presentation we put forward and the general reaction by the commissioners for our plan.”
Selbo said none of the issues raised during the hearing came as a surprise.
Killington businessman Stephen Durkee, who has butted heads with SP Land and its plans before, raised a number of questions about the project including traffic, environmental permits and a 15-lot subdivision that was approved by the town.
Two of the lots encompass the proposed village core in the Snowshed base lodge area. Two lots are designated for a planned residential development in the Ramshead area.
In connection with the subdivision, the commission ordered SP Land to provide an update on a previous legal case that would support an application to subdivide property regardless of whether the developer intends to build on any of the lots.
Durkee was also asked to weigh in on the same issue.
Last year, the Supreme Court overturned a permit issued by the District 1 Environmental Commission to SP Land for its 15-lot subdivision.
Since no permit for construction was requested at the time, the commission treated the subdivision request as a minor amendment to Killington’s master plan.
However, Durkee appealed the decision on the grounds that the commission never issued an Act 250 permit for the master plan but rather approved a set of findings in 1999. Because no permit was ever issued, Durkee said the commission erred in issuing a permit for the subdivision.
During the hearing this month, SP Land again asked the commission to approve the 15 lots, with four lots proposed for construction. However, Durkee argued that SP Land should be required to submit additional information on the remaining 11 lots, although no construction is planned at this time.
In its recess order of June 13, the commission also asked SP Land to provide information on a number of items, including updating a 1999 memorandum of agreement with the three regional planning commissions on the need for future “traffic studies of a limited number of regional intersections which will be impacted either in Phase I or subsequent phases.”
“We’ll be working with them here over the next month to come to this agreement,” Selbo said. “But there’s really no additional studies necessary at this time.”
Susan Schreibman of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission said the three commissions (the other two being Two Rivers-Ottauquechee and Southern Windsor County) submitted a draft proposal to SP Land to identify future mitigation measures and a traffic monitoring program.
“The Phase I will not generate enough traffic to certainly warrant any mitigation measures,” said Schreibman, RRPC’s acting executive director. “As planners, we look to the future.”
Beyond the first phase, Killington’s conceptual master plan includes an additional 2,050 housing units and another 169,000 square feet of commercial space.
Neighboring ski area, Okemo Mountain Resort, raised concerns about future increased traffic the village project would generate along Route 103, which passes by the Ludlow resort.
Okemo spokeswoman Bonnie MacPherson said in an email Friday that the resort “is not opposed to Killington’s plans for development, but has concerns regarding the mitigation of increased traffic potential.”
In February, SP Land Co. filed an Act 250 permit application for the first phase of its master plan development, including 193 condominiums, nine single-family lots and 23 duplex lots, 31,000 square feet of retail space and a 77,000-square-foot base lodge that would replace the Snowshed and Ramshead base lodges.
SP Land filed a separate land-use application for a 1,276-vehicle parking lot that would be located just north of the Mountain Inn.
Killington Road at the base of the ski area would be rerouted to accommodate the village core.
Both the village project and the parking lot were taken up by the commission at the hearing.
Act 250 reviews a project based on 10 criteria, including traffic, aesthetics and wildlife, stormwater runoff, water and air pollution, water supply and impact on municipal services.
Selbo said SP Land worked with the Agency of Natural Resources in “putting together a water quality remediation plan.” He said he also reached out to environmental groups that might have an interest in the project.
Environmental groups often participate in an Act 250 case when it comes to large developments. But no group sought party status to participate in the Killington village hearings.
Richard Horner, Killington town planner and zoning administrator, said nothing SP Land has proposed should kill the project. However, he also said whatever the commission decides will likely be appealed.
“If it’s approved, and depending what the conditions are, I think that Durkee will probably appeal it to the Environmental Court,” he said, “and obviously if it’s not approved, or if there’s real onerous conditions, then I would assume SP Land would appeal it. So I don’t think this decision will be the end of it.”
In its recess order, the commission requested information on 32 items from individuals, state and private entities that were granted party status.
The hearings were held May 31 and June 1, 4 and 5.
SP Land owns the property in and around the Snowshed and Ramshead base lodges. Killington Resort is owned by Powdr Corp. of Park City, Utah.
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