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Routt County set to evaluate Steamboat Ski Area master plan

Four Points Lodge at the Steamboat Ski Area was completed in 2013. The ski area has many more projects detailed in its master plan
file photo

If you go

What: County Planning Commission considers a conceptual permit for the Steamboat Ski Area’s Master Plan.

When: 6 p.m., June 4 (goes to Board of County Commissioners 1:30 p.m., June 23)

Where: Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs.

Four Points addition will wait

Steamboat Today reported March 23 that the Steamboat Ski Area had been issued a permit to build an addition to the two-year-old Four Points Lodge to provide more restaurant seating. Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Diamond confirmed Friday that, although the project was submitted to parent company Intrawest for consideration in the capital budget, it was not selected to go forward this year.

— Routt County officials are expected in June to take a detailed look at the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp’s future plans for new ski lifts, trails, ski school areas and restaurants as Ski Corp. executives seek to have their 2011 master plan, already approved by the U.S. Forest Service, approved by the county as a conceptual plan.

The plan includes some intriguing projects, including a ski-way in the form of a snow-covered bridge, 325 feet long and 85 feet above Burgess Creek, that would make it easier for skiers to leave the ski trails on Pioneer Ridge.

Ski Corp. has a June 4 hearing with County Planning Commission and a June 23 date with the the Board of County Commissioners to consider a conceptual permit for the projects detailed in the master plan.



The plan also anticipates two new six-person lifts, replacing the existing Elkhead and Thunderhead lifts, along with improvements too numerous to mention.

If you go

What: County Planning Commission considers a conceptual permit for the Steamboat Ski Area’s Master Plan.



When: 6 p.m., June 4 (goes to Board of County Commissioners 1:30 p.m., June 23)

Where: Commissioners’ Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs.

Sunshine Bowl is being considered for some changes, including building the new Sunshine II quad lift, an additional 120 skiable acres on new trails, a new restaurant on Tomahawk Trail, expansion of Rendezvous Restaurant and the replacement of South Peak lift with a quad.

No decision to actually move forward with any of those projects has been made, but according to a 2011 study carried out for Ski Corp. by Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners, they were deemed as being in the decade in the future.

Ski Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Diamond, who is retiring at the end of June, reminded county planners in a Feb. 9 letter that the ski area had obtained approval for the new Four Points Lodge at 9,700 feet elevation in March 2013, and staff had asked that Ski Corp. return to present the 2011 master plan for county consideration.

“What we’re trying to do is avoid duplication between complex approvals with Forest Service and county approvals, getting them to accept what has been reviewed by the Forest Service and (determine) what exceptions might be considered and how long it might last for,” Diamond said Friday.

Most of the ski area is on the National Forest, but Routt County also has jurisdiction and zoned the ski area for outdoor recreation in 1972. Under that zoning classification, the Ski Corp. is required to seek approval for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) permit that looks into the future. According to a report by county planner Alan Goldich, Ski Corp. has received approval for numerous final PUD plans over the years, as well as conceptual PUD’s that looked into the future.

During the June hearings, Ski Corp.’s 2011 master plan with the Forest Service will be considered as a conceptual PUD. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the county will endorse all the Forest Service approvals. Rather, county officials will sort through them to determine which projects might require a full county review, Planning Director Chad Phillips said.

“What we’ll try to do is get every building and use they want to do listed,” he said. “Then take the list and break it down into three parts: the things (the Ski Corp.) never has to come back (to county planning) for, things that could be approved administratively and then those items that would require review.”

Ski Corp. Vice President of Skier Services Jim Schneider said his company has a good understanding with Phillips and planning staff of the issues.

“We absolutely agree those things that have visual impacts, we need to come forward on,” he said. “But there are certain things inherent to running a ski area the Forest Service (the ski area’s landlord) has jurisdiction over.”

The unobtrusive utility building at the top of Christie Peak Express built last year is an example of something the county didn’t need to approve, Phillips said. Depending upon where it was located, a new zip line ride might trigger a permit hearing, he added. Phillips issued an administrative permit (without need for a public hearing) this spring for a tentative plan to add onto Four Points Lodge.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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