By Karen Lorentz
Many doubted the day would come, but on Jan. 23, 2017, an Act 250 amended permit was issued for Phase I of the Killington Village master plan.
Due to an agreement reached Dec. 19, the appeal of the original Act 250 permit for the Killington Village to Vermont’s Supreme Court was dropped, and SP Land Company now has the Act 250 permit sought in its February 2012 application.
SP Land President Steven Selbo told the Mountain Times, he is “happy” to finally have a permit which “looks good. As always, I wish a couple of things would have been said another way, but overall everything is in order.”
That means the Phase I design for the Killington Village master plan can move ahead with no changes needed to the plan. The town site plan approval also stands as is.
Asked if he is currently pursuing a developer for Phase I, Selbo said, “Yes, I have taken a couple of calls and I’m headed to Dallas to meet someone who has shown some interest.”
The construction of the resort parking project, which is a Killington Resort project, has to be done first based on the Village permit conditions. (Killington Resort filed an Act 250 application for a new resort parking project, realignment of part of Killington Road, reconfiguration of the hotel parking lot and associated storm water treatment in Feb. 2012.)
Regarding the construction timetable for the Resort Parking Project, Selbo said there are some other conditions like another historic preservation study which needs to be completed before the other projects can commence. The Town resort parking project and SP Land Phase I permits also require going back to the Town Planning Commission for construction sequencing approvals. But in order to take that step, Selbo said a construction team needs to be in place. “Putting all these pieces together will take time,” he noted. “Clearing all the conditions … makes it unlikely that the resort parking project will commence this year,” he noted.
Asked who will undertake the various pieces of the project, Selbo said the work would go out to bid –—one major project alone would be the storm water construction, which includes the storm water pond as well as the storm water piping for the Village core and Ramshead Brook subdivision. He added that he anticipated one company might be contracted for all the roads, utilities, and storm water project.
Significance of progress
While it’s been common to hear people doubt “seeing a village get built in my lifetime,” the progress represented by the permit is significant, not just for addressing disbelief and impatience regarding the permit process, but for what it means to the town and resort.
“Research shows that the critical mass created by villages with higher density commercial areas and residential development helps to expand the market. By offering more things for families and groups to do, resort villages engender a heightened sense of community and commitment to an area, whether the purchasers of condo units or homes are skiers or not,” said Parker Riehle, president of the Vermont Ski Areas Association. “It’s a case of a rising tide floats all boats. People don’t just stay in a village, they go out and explore the local art galleries, shops, and boutiques,” he added.
“As with other such villages we have seen, this kind of development at Killington will generate a dedicated draw for skiers and riders that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the mountain while significantly benefiting the state and the surrounding communities,” Riehle added.
Speaking from his Florida home, Killington Resort founder Preston Leete Smith, who foresaw the need for a village in 1967 well before the destination resort trend hit Vermont, said, “The construction of the village will allow Killington to compete with the West and places in the East that already have significantly more village than Killington, as well as be a world-class destination resort.”
Stating that the lack of a village has “absolutely affected skier visits,” Smith acknowledged the decline of visits since records were set in the late 1980s and 1990s, attributing it in part it to a need for a greater bed base and the village amenities people now expect. Citing the “absolute urgency” of this project, he also offered his congratulations for “the perseverance” and work that have made the permit possible.
The amended permit was issued by the District #1 Environmental Commission in accordance with the Environmental Court (altered) ruling from Aug. 29. An attorney for SP Land and the District #1 coordinator reviewed the permit in accordance with the Court’s revisions, and changes were made to the Oct. 7, 2013, permit per those changes.
This progress is due to a mediation process, ensuing discussions, and the settlement of some complex issues, including an old lawsuit, all of which took place this past December. The appellant Steve Durkee had previously appealed the Village Act 250 permit and town of Killington site plan approvals. The terms of the agreement remain confidential at this point, pending a final settlement of details expected to occur in February.