Council approves hotel project on first reading | News

Mountain Village Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance considering a final Site Specific Planned Unit Development (SPUD) for the Lot 161 CR Hotel project on first reading during its regular meeting Thursday afternoon. Council member Patrick Berry, a Telski employee, recused himself from the agenda item and council vote, as the ski resort is a co-applicant.

Council’s decision came a day after the town’s design review board approved and recommended the third required application for the SPUD process to Town Council during a special meeting Wednesday morning. Board members Scott Bennett and Ellen Kramer were the two dissenting votes, while the other five voting members approved it. The board previously approved the plans, but added 11 conditions that the applicant, Merrimac Fort Partners LLC, had to meet prior to the most recent approval. The conditions included improved lighting, landscaping, building materials, roof design and lower maximum heights. There was also a public site walk held prior to Wednesday’s special meeting, with balloons placed at certain points to convey the potential height of the buildings.

The current maximum height is just under 90 feet, which is a nearly six-foot reduction from previous plans presented to the design review board. Michelle Haynes, town planning and development services and housing director, has explained that the proposed maximum height is acceptable according to the town’s recently updated comprehensive plan for flagship hotels.

The project currently includes plans for 53 dedicated hotel rooms, 38 branded residences that constitute an additional 77 hotel keys when not in use by the owner, 29 condominiums and 10 employee apartments. Food and beverage spaces, a ballroom, spa and retail shops are also included as part of the project, which is most likely going to be a Four Seasons hotel.

Almost everyone who spoke during public comment Thursday supported the project, including Ron Allred, former ski resort owner and Mountain Village visionary.

“I think you’ve got the right guys. … They’ve got the money to do it, and that’s really very important,” he said, adding opportunities to bring a luxury hotel to town have been passed up and it’s time to change that. “… They could do it. That’s a big thing. If you decide to approve this project, it will change everything in our little world we call Mountain Village for the better for all of us, especially for the merchants in Mountain Village. They’re going to feel the impetus for what it’ll do for them. It’ll make their lives better. It’ll make their employees lives better.”

After hearing presentations from town staff and the applicant, as well as public comment, council members did not take long to discuss and mull over the decision before Mayor Pro Tem Dan Caton made a motion to approve the agenda item.

“When would you expect to check in your first guest?” Caton asked Dev Motwani, president and CEO of Merrimac Ventures and applicant.

Motwani explained that the project would take at least three years to build “if we’re lucky,” but it’ll most likely be four or five years before the hotel and property is open and operational, once approved and a building permit is issued .

Haynes explained a construction mitigation plan is required with the final design review application.

“We’ve asked that we continue to work on this and that the applicants start working with the town on their construction mitigation plan six months before a building permit is issued. And that is because there are many things that they don’t know today. You know, when you perfect your building plans, then you’re going to understand how many truckloads of dirt you need to remove. You’re going to better understand how many trucks of concrete need to come in for your foundation. You’re going to better understand materials and when those materials are to be delivered at the different phases of your project. We’ve had some other larger projects in the Town of Mountain Village, and it’s important that we work together to limit the number of trucks per day, manage the community’s expectations and have a very clear communications plan,” she said Thursday.

Mayor Laila Benitez suggested the town and applicant also work more on the community benefits list moving forward.

“I’ve loved everything that we’ve seen. I love how you’ve taken into consideration everything you’ve heard over the years,” she said.

The second reading of the ordinance is set for a special Aug. 25 council meeting.

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