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Mind-mixing in Breckenridge

Town sets up new online engagement forum

Breckenridge, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with offering opportunities for input during formal settings like town council meetings and hearings, Breckenridge is reaching out to residents with a new  forum designed to let people brainstorm in a casual online setting.

The new website, EngageBreckenridge.com, lets residents and visitors chime in on topics currently being discussed by the town council, like a potential ban on single-use plastic bags, and also lets people throw out new ideas. For example, one recent discussion thread centers on the idea of an indoor playground. Continue reading

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Breckenridge: New Peak 8 development in the works

Town council to discuss development agreement that would enable site work before a final building permit is issued

More development at Peak 8?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The latest proposal for a new timeshare development at Peak 8, up for discussion at a July 24 town council meeting, could give the developers (Breckenridge Grand Vacation) an opportunity to get a head start on the proposed timeshare project by allowing them to start demolishing the Bergenhof and building infrastructure before the actual building permit is issued.

That would be a new path for the town, since development codes don’t allow  site work to begin before a building permit is issued.

The deal, which has been in the works for several months, includes Vail Resorts selling the property to the timeshare developer, as well as an increase in overall density above what is allowed on the site and a decrease in parking spaces.

The developers also want to gain density by reclassifying already built and future proposed public restroom space, employee locker room space and storage spaces as listed in the Peak 7 and 8 Master Plan as skier services to new category that does not require density.

To sweeten the pot, the developer has proposed donating $25,000 to the town for preservation activities in Cucumber Gulch.

Check out the staff memo and the proposed development agreement in the town council packet for the July 24 meeting.

Colorado: Prized wetlands besieged in Breckenridge

Runoff from resort compromises upper reaches of Cucumber Gulch

Breckenridge planner Mark Truckey and former open space program director Heide Andersen inspect the problem area in April, 2010.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with a reclamation project gone awry at Shock Hill, Breckenridge’s prized Cucumber Gulch wetlands are also facing a threat from runoff directly below the ski area’s Peak 8 base.

Visiting the area earlier this week, members of the town’s open space advisory group saw that runoff — inadequately managed by the ski area and town — have cut a trench through the marsh grasses, washing tons of sand into a beaver pond at the upper end of the Cucumber Gulch system, just below County Road 3.

“Water was running off of there like a freight train,” said former town council member Jeffrey Bergeron, who still serves on the open space group. “This is so sensitive … the town needs to just do this, damn the cost, then try to figure out how to make it work financially,” he said, adding that beavers apparently have already vacated some of the ponds. Continue reading

Breckenridge enacts Stage 2 fire ban

Restrictions emphasize zero-tolerance enforcement

Fire danger in Colorado has prompted widespread fire restrictions.

Extreme fire danger prevails across Colorado.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Town of Breckenridge this week adopted Stage 2 fire restrictions in coordination with Stage 2 Fire Restrictions instituted by Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service.

The current fire danger in the area has been ranging between very high and extreme and the weather forecast predicts continued dryness with the potential for high winds.

“In this time of extreme fire danger it is incumbent on all of us to be diligent in our use of fire-producing products.” said Police Chief Shannon Haynes.“The department will take a zero tolerance approach to violations of the Mayor’s declaration and the Town of Breckenridge Municipal Court will assess fines up to $999 with possible jail time of 364 days for convicted offenders.” Continue reading

Drought watch: Breckenridge to ban fires and small fireworks

Continued drought prompts Breckenridge to take additional steps to try and avoid a fire start.

Ordinance would enable mayor to ban in-town burning and fires by proclamation

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —On top of Stage 2 fire restrictions on National Forest lands and a statewide fire ban enacted by Gov. Hickenlooper, the Breckenridge Town Council may vote to give Mayor John Warner the power to ban fires on public and private lands within town limits.

According to police chief Shannon Haynes, the imminent threat of a destructive wildfire justifies the move. In a June 20 memo to the town council, Haynes wrote that extremely dry weather conditions are expected to persist and even worsen in the foreseeable future.

The council will discuss the emergency ordinance at the June 26 meeting. Passing the ordinance would give the mayor to immediately issue a proclamation. The order would be lifted when it’s determined that the severe fire threat has diminished. Continue reading

Breckenridge Town Council may ask the U.S. Forest Service to delay Peak 6 approval pending completion of a lynx study

A map showing one of the alternatives for the proposed Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area. Click for a full-size version.

Town council and Summit County Commissioners will finalize formal comments on controversial ski area expansion proposal

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Based on a draft comment letter to the Forest Service, the Breckenridge Town council is prepared to take a strong stance on the proposed Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area, asking the agency to set a cap on daily skier visits and delay approval of the Peak 6 plan until a ski area lynx study at Silverton Mountain has been completed.

The draft letter is up for discussion at the Aug. 23 town council meeting beginning at about 3:45 p.m. The draft letter also questions whether the Forest Service preferred alternative includes enough legitimate intermediate terrain to accommodate the stated purpose of the expansion, which is to disperse skiers and alleviate crowding on existing terrain.

The council’s position probably won’t satisfy some critics of the Peak 6 proposal, who had hoped that the council would wholly endorse a no-action alternative, included by the Forest Service as a baseline against which to measure the impacts of the other two action alternatives.

As discussed at a council work session two weeks ago, the letter also asks the Forest Service and the ski area to define a daily on-mountain capacity as a target for the ski area not to exceed, and leaves it up to the agency and the resort to figure out how to stay under that cap. Continue reading

Breckenridge: Town council looks for Peak 6 consensus

Breckenridge Town Council members are formulating comments on the draft study for a proposed expansion on to Peak 6.

Elected representatives about to comment on draft ski area expansion plan in the name of the town and its citizens

By Bob Berwyn & Jenney Coberly

BRECKENRIDGE — Some town council members said they want Breckenridge Ski Resort to consider blackout dates, upgrades to existing lifts and an overall cap on skiers to address the issue of skier congestion that has taken center stage during the recent discussions about a controversial plan to add lift-served skiing in Peak 6.

Those ideas, and more, surfaced Aug. 9 during a council work session aimed at writing a set of formal comments to the Forest Service. The agency is currently taking comments on a draft environmental study on the proposal. Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has picked a preferred alternative that would add about 550 acres of new terrain and a six-seat lift on Peak 6. Detailed project and comment information is online at http://breckenridgepeak6.com/

Most council members were quite outspoken about what they want to tell the agency, while a few demurred on making direct comments, citing concerns about a divided town and divided town council.

In absentia, Mayor John Warner said the resort should create a five to seven-year plan for upgrading existing lifts, and work to mitigate impacts to backcountry skiers by adding a new backcountry access point and new trailhead.

Council member Jen McAtamney said the Forest Service should wait to amend forest plan wildlife conservation standards until there is more information on lynx movement in the Tenmile Range.

Council member Jeffrey Bergeron said the draft study doesn’t pass the sniff test, and that he, for one, is not ready to make Peak 6 a sacrificial lamb to the altar of ski area expansion. Listen to the entire discussion in the following audio clip and read more Summit Voice stories on Peak 6 here for background.

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