After a lengthy and detailed process, the District #1
Environmental Commission issued Act 250 permits for the Killington
Village Master Plan and a new Resort Parking Project on October
While it is a step forward in the process, there are some
conditions attached to the permit that cause concern for SP Land
Company. Still, Steven Selbo, President of SP Land, said he was
"cautiously optimistic." Adding "we have some important decisions
to make," referring to whether or not SP Land Company would appeal
the ruling or request modification.
Based upon the Commission's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of
Law, Land Use Permit #1R0980 was issued as follows:
"This permit specifically authorizes the Permittee to construct
Phase I of the Village Master Plan," including: 193 residential
units in the Village Core; 31,622 square feet of commercial/retail
space; 77,000-square-foot replacement skier services building; 32
lot Ramshead Brook Subdivision utilities; two potable water
projects - Snowdon Well Field Project and the Valley Well Field
Project; and further approves the subdivision of 15 lots throughout
the Killington Mountain area and reaffirms an additional 10
The permit also notes that amendments will be required for
individual residential units in the Ramshead Brook Subdivision as
the construction details of those homes become finalized. The final
plan may involve all single-family homes (32 total) or a
combination of single-family homes and duplexes, which could total
up to 55 housing units.
The District #1 Commissioners participating in this decision
were the acting chair Herbert G. Ogden, Amanda Beraldi, and Edward
Weissman. The permit application was filed February 28, 2012 and
the hearings were held in late May and early June 2012. After
several recess orders and numerous extensions for filings of
requested information, the Commission began deliberations on the
applications for the Killington Village Master Plan and new Resort
Parking Project in July 2013.
The conditions that were imposed in the eight-page permit were
explained in the 62 pages of Findings of Fact and Conclusions of
Law. Some of the 10 criteria have sub-criteria, however, if not
implicated in the application, criterion that address such things
as gravel pits and quarries do not get addressed.
Phase I Conditions
Most of the 29 conditions were pro forma (to be expected) - for
instance, regarding landscaping, Condition 16 requires the permit
holder to "continually maintain the landscaping as approved in the
Exhibits by replacing any dead or diseased plantings within the
season or as soon as possible after the ground thaws, whichever is
One substantial consideration, which the Commission thoroughly
addressed in five pages of findings was Criteria 8 Aesthetics,
typically one of the most complex and important issues for
developers in Vermont.
Killington resident and businessman Steve Durkee objected to the
project on this criteria through his representative David Raphael.
Raphael, an architect, claimed that there would be an undue adverse
impact of both the Village Master Plan and Phase I. He argued that
the developments would be shocking or offensive to the average
person and that reasonable mitigation steps to reduce the visual
and aesthetic impacts had not been taken. He said that the Village
Master Plan and associated developments are inappropriately sited,
scaled and designed, that they insufficiently protect or preserve
the natural landscape, and thus would have irreversible detrimental
impacts on the aesthetics of the area.
In response, while the Commission found that there would be a
potential for an adverse affect "insofar as certain pastoral treed
areas" would see residential development, it found that Phase I is
"in harmony with its surroundings of a developed ski resort basin."
It continued, stating: "the majority of Phase I construction will
be the Village Core, which is currently the location of day-skier
parking lots and two aging skier-services buildings. The Snowshed
and Ramshead lodges will be demolished as part of this project and
replaced with newer, more attractive structures. The current
arrival at the base of the ski mountain is through a large parking
area and largely unadorned with positive aesthetic features," the
Citing this factor among other findings, the Commission
concluded that "Based upon a preponderance of the evidence, Phase I
will not have an undue adverse effect on the scenic or natural
beauty of the area, aesthetics, historic sites or rare and
irreplaceable natural areas."
However, the Commission also addressed potential impacts of the
Ramshead Brook Subdivision by requiring that plans for the homes be
submitted for review and approval by Act 250 prior to
One issue that was brought up after the hearings (although SP
Land had addressed housing in their economic analysis) was the
request by the Rutland Regional Planning Commission (RRPC) for
affordable housing to be built. The Commission noted that the
reference to the need for affordable housing was "well-intentioned
but untimely." However, it noted that an updated economic analysis
would have to address the issue for any subsequent phases, noting
RRPC may participate on that issue at that time.
Traffic impacts, Conditions
The most contentious issue raised during the Act 250 hearings
concerned Criterion 5 Transportation and 9K Public Investment as
regards potential traffic impacts.
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 (TIS) 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.
SP Land had objected to open-ended mitigation for traffic
impacts all the way to I-89 and I-91 and to funding suggestions
that might be similarly open-ended or rely heavily on SP Land while
many other factors and parties could contribute and, thus, be
responsible for, future traffic impacts.
The Commission took into consideration input and concerns from
the statutory parties and the Permit granted does contain extensive
open-ended conditions regarding future traffic studies - far beyond
SP Land's suggestion.
A proviso requires the Permittee to "contribute 50% of the cost
of preparing the study and the plan with a cap of $25,000,
whichever is less. The balance of cost for this plan will be paid
for through contributions from VTrans and the effected Regional
Planning Commissions. The Regional Planning Commissions will
jointly manage the study and collaborate with the permittee in the
development of the study and the issuance of the report and
Furthermore, while granting the permit for Phase I, it
preconditions any future applications for additional phases of the
Village upon meeting several requirements. Including: in addition
to stipulating what the 6-12 month traffic study and the second
five-year study must contain, it requires the Permittee to develop
appropriate mitigation measures to mitigate any adverse
condition(s) and to implement, or cause to be implemented, the
recommended mitigation measures that VTrans identifies to resolve
congestion or safety problems. In other words, not only will they
be held to the cost of the study, but the widespread cost of
mitigating future traffic issues well outside their immediate
impact area, too.
The Commission writes: "The permittee shall, prior to submittal
of application(s) for approval of subsequent phases, coordinate
with VTrans and with the effected Regional Planning Commissions
(the Rutland Regional, Southern Windsor County and Two Rivers-
Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commissions) to design, fund and
perform a corridor traffic study which includes traffic impacts
from the Phase I development upon the Killington Road/US4/ VT103
corridors from Killington to I-91 and I-89."
In addition to stipulating what the corridor study shall include
regarding traffic impacts "for all phases of the SP Lands
development," Condition 14 in the Permit notes "it shall include
conclusions in the form of a transportation system improvement plan
for areas in the corridor shown to require improvement to maintain
safe conditions and avoid unreasonable congestion."
The Commission concluded that a more meaningful study would occur
after completion of Phase I and prior to approval for subsequent
phases and hence the aforementioned conditions regarding traffic
Partial Findings for Village Master Plan
In addition to the construction approval for Phase I, the permit
decision contains associated partial findings pursuant to Act 250
Rule 21 in connection with proposed development of subsequent
phases of the Killington Village Master Plan for the long-range
development of an additional 2,107 housing units and 169,000 square
feet of additional retail development. The total build-out would
encompass eight development zones in about 303 acres.
The Commission did conclude that the Village Master Plan will
have no adverse impact on historic sites that are listed or
eligible for the State or National Registers of Historic Places or
on any significant rare or irreplaceable natural communities and
there were a few other such instances of positive findings.
However, there were many more criteria where it was noted that
"additional evidence" would be required. The Commission was unable
to find full conformance with Criterion 8 Aesthetics for subsequent
future phases II and III without additional evidence. Noting "The
applicant has presented a case that the Village Master Planned
locations, densities and scale are appropriate," the commission
said that with the details unknown at this time, "the Applicant
must provide detailed plans and exhibits at the time of application
for each future phase of the Village Master Plan to demonstrate
that each such phase will not have an undue adverse effect on the
scenic or natural beauty of the area or aesthetics."
E2M - SP Land
Although there is a permit, there is no timetable concerning the
development of the village at this point. Paul Rowsey, founding
partner of Texas-based E2M and chairman of Ski Partners which is
the majority owner of SP Land Company discussed plans and a revised
timeline for the Village project in a 2009 interview, stating that
he expected it would take years to complete the planning and secure
He also noted that the decision to proceed with the Village was
predicated on E2M having expertise in real estate. E2M is a private
real estate firm with a long-range focus, he noted. The principals
in E2M have 24 years real estate development experience on average
and four of the principals run/ran national real estate development
companies. E2M has been involved with master-planned communities in
Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Colorado as well as the
development and financing of 42 hotel properties across the country
among other real estate projects that include multi-family housing,
senior housing, and commercial and industrial properties.
E2M's involvement has ranged from having operating partners and
E2M serving more as equity financing and project oversight partners
to being actively involved with development, Rowsey explained. He
added that having been involved with investing in over 100
development projects across the country, E2M has a "network with
operating partners who have experience with hotels, condo
development and management and in-house expertise."
Stating, "We don't invest in public companies, and we are not a
public company," Rowsey said this enables E2M to be involved with a
long-range master plan and be involved for the long term.
Additionally, there is a partnership with Powdr, also a private
company, which owns the ski resort. Each company owns a small
portion of the other so there is a symbiotic relationship to work
together toward common goals, Rowsey noted.
Now that another step forward has been achieved in the long
planning process, it is relevant to note that SP Land is in for the
long haul and not preparing to "flip the village" as some rumors
would have it.
Selbo reiterated that given the size of the project, that would
be highly unlikely anyway and that the company will be looking to
bring in qualified developers, whether to be joint-venture partners
or to purchase land. So seeking partners is likely a next step for
SP Land and Selbo, even as they continue through potential appeals
or modifications with the Act 250 permit.
An appeal to Act 250, whether sought by SP Lands or an opponent,
would once again delay the long sought Village. [The original
Killington Village suffered a three-year delay from 1987 to 1990 in
the Vermont Supreme Court, which ultimately chastised the objectors
and threw their case out. But by then the state was in a deep
recession and Killington's corporate parent S-K-I Ltd. was unable
to accomplish a village core, ultimately selling the company and
The significance of the permit is that it recognizes
Killington's need for a dynamic village and once again identifies
it as a "growth center" - originally agreed to an historic land
swap in 1997. Many see the Village as a means to boost and
revitalize Killington Resort's position in the New England
four-season destination resort industry, and one that could provide
a much-needed economic boost the entire Rutland Region. These
permits are a step in that direction.
Editor's Note: Next week we'll cover the second permit, which was
issued for Killington Resort's 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. We'll also check in to
get local reactions and report any updates on modifications or
appeals submitted to Act 250.
Architectural rendition of Phase 1 of the proposed Killington
Village, which will be located near the current Snowshed and
Ramshead base lodges.