The Mountain Times

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Progress continues for Killington Village

After a lengthy process that included several days of Act 250 hearings and related site visit, several recess orders and numerous extensions for filings of requested information, the District #1 Environmental Commission (Commission) last week received the information it needs and began deliberations on the applications for the Killington Village Master Plan and new Resort Parking Project.

The Commission has two distinct applications before it and has received hundreds of pages of information for 300 exhibits related to the application for the Village Master Plan submitted by SP Land Company in February 2012. The information for the Resort Parking Projects permit submitted by Killington Resort is not as lengthy and does not have as many exhibits but is still considerable.

The Village Master Plan #1R0980 permit application specifically requests a permit to subdivide 15 lots throughout the Killington Mountain area and seeks reaffirmation for administrative and consolidation purposes of another 10 lots.

Additionally, it seeks conceptual authorization for the Village Master Plan for the development of approximately 2,300 individually occupied residential units, a replacement skier services building, and associated commercial space.

The Village Master Plan application specifically requests authorization (a permit) to develop Phase I of the Village Master Plan, which consists of: 193 residential units in the Village Core; approximately 32,000 square feet of commercial/retail space; a replacement skier services building; a 32-lot Ramshead Brook Subdivision; and two potable water projects -the Snowdon Well Field Project and the Valley Well Field Project.

Both the 50-page Proposal for Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law document and a 7-page Proposed Permit Conditions document for the Village Master Plan were filed on behalf of applicant SP Land Company, LLC by Stephanie Hainley, project manager and chief operating office of White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors, Inc. Hainley also presented the application at the Act 250 hearings that took place in late May/early June in 2012.

Steven Selbo, President of SP Land, recently told The Mountain Times that he thought they "had done a thorough job with their proposed languages" which address various criteria that were of special concern regarding the application. He added that he looks "forward to the Commission's final decision" and receiving the same "on a timely basis."

One of the issues raised during the Act 250 hearings concerned Criterion 5 Transportation and 9 Public Investment the amount of traffic (trip generation) that Phase I of the new village would cause. In its proposal to the Commission, SP Land suggested that "six-months-to-one-year and five-years after full occupancy of Phase I and during the ski season that the Applicant" would conduct a study to determine actual trip generation and compare it to the Traffic Impact Study they submitted at the hearings.

If the actual trip generation were found "to exceed the estimates by 20 percent or more," their proposal stated that the Applicant would re-analyze the various intersections (reported on in the study area) and report on signal warrants, turn lane warrants, average delays, and other parameters. They also recognized the Commission's continuing jurisdiction and right to convene a status conference to determine whether further studies and/or mitigating measures might be warranted.

In all, the Applicant (SP Land Company, LLC) proposed adhering to some 30 conditions, ranging from hours that construction might be allowed to following the guidelines/parameters as presented in their 300 exhibits - all of which are meant to be in keeping with the spirit of Act 250 for thoughtful and responsible development.

Hainley and Jeff Temple of Killington/Pico Ski Resort Partners, LLC also filed for the Resort Parking Projects #1R0981 Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (16 pages) and Proposed Permit Conditions (five pages) on July 9.

The Resort seeks a permit that would specifically authorize the construction of replacement day skier parking lots, realignment of a portion of Killington Road, reconfiguration of The Killington Grand hotel parking lot, and construction of a storm-water basin and associated utilities.

Among the 27 conditions the Resort suggested was one under Criterion 8 (aesthetics, historic sites, etcetera) to have a qualified consulting archeologist study and assess a portion of an area known as VT-RU-568 which has been identified as "archeologically sensitive" and of historic importance.

The Applicant (Killington Resort) agreed to observe the prohibitions for work in the VT-RU-568 buffer zone and to any mitigation measures that might be required to address the portion of their project that might potentially affect the area of the huge sawdust pile that was left from 100 years ago when the mountain was logged. [The Vermont Marble Company owned 3,022 acres of "Killington lands," which they purchased in 1901 and lumbered to 1918 with a sawmill located near the present Basin Ski Shop complex.] Revised site plans would be presented to the Commission and the Division for Historic Preservation for review and approval before any work commenced in the affected area.

Time for deliberations
With both the applicants' proposals and those of various other parties, including opponents to the projects, now filed, the Commission is in the deliberations stage.

This process requires that the three knowledgeable members of the Commission - an attorney, an executive with a local power company, and a retired playwright make up the current Commission - address the various Act 250 criteria. There are ten criteria for Act 250 permits now, but some of them have sub-criteria making more that the Commission may address.

Although they have been reviewing various documents as received, Commission members must now come together and make determinations that the criteria are met while addressing objections submitted by opponents to various parts of the project or concerns raised by statutory parties. They also address various permits that had to be gained from such parties as the Agency of Natural Resources among others.

That done, they put forth any conditions to be followed and then draft the permit which must be consistent with findings of law. This must be done in concert with various rulings by State agencies and Vermont laws.

There are some known contentious issues among those who oppose various parts of the project so this process will take time. Should they feel there is still a missing piece of information that is needed for their decision, the Commission could make a request for such, however, usually at the stage when deliberations are made, the application is considered as complete.

Of note, while an economic study was included as part of the Village Master Plan application and it did not indicate a need for affordable housing and the issue was not raised during the hearings, recently the Rutland Regional Planning Commission raised concerns about this issue. Whether the Commission will address it is not known, but SP Land and others, including the Town of Killington, objected to the need of affordable housing and the topic being raised so late in the process.

Because the Village Master Plan is a major project of importance to the Rutland Region, not just Killington, expectations are that the deliberations could take a while as the Commission must give careful consideration to all. In this respect, the process is somewhat analogous to a trial where a jury must sift through testimony and weigh the evidence in coming to its conclusion.

The good news is that after years of planning and the expenditures of great sums of money, the permit process is finally getting closer to a conclusion where SP Land's proposed Village Mater Plan and the Resort's Parking Project may get underway.