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‘Village’ public meeting to be scheduled in October

Archuleta County residents will soon have an opportunity to learn more about an arguably new and improved Village At Wolf Creek, following commissioner action Wednesday.

In discussions with key staffers representing Sen. Mark Udall, Sen. Michael Bennett, Rep. John Salazar and Village representative Dusty Hicks, the group agreed to schedule an Archuleta County public meeting within a month that would detail the developer’s revised plans to Pagosa Springs area residents.

According to Clint Jones, executive vice president of Hal Jones Development LLC, the revised plan entails a smaller village that — at phase one — would include 491 units and would grow in phases commensurate with Wolf Creek Ski Area, the area’s carrying capacity for accommodating additional skiers and the real estate market.

In an effort to define 491 units in human terms, Hicks said Mineral County land use regulations equate “one unit” with one condo, one single-family dwelling, three hotel rooms or a four-plex. That said, 500 units could mean as many as 2,000 people at phase one and as many as 6,800 people or 1,700 units at buildout.

Jones’ new numbers show a decrease from the 10,000-person village oft touted by former Village front man Bob Honts.

In past interviews, Jones has said despite his desire to build a smaller village, his scaled back proposal is predicated on a successful land exchange which would involve swapping 207 acres — largely wetlands in and around Alberta Park area — for 207 higher drier acres out of the wetlands and adjacent to U.S. 160.

To that end, Jones has embarked on a two pronged process. The first: a forest service land exchange. The second: A congressional exchange sponsored by Salazar.

Jones has argued that the Forest Service exchange is fraught with uncertainty and could be years in the making, while the congressional exchange could provide a speedier resolution and greater predictability for area residents and the developer. In either case, Jones argues both exchanges will go through an open and public process.

Despite Jones’ arguments, Moomaw said that while the legislative process could provide greater predictability for all parties, the Forest Service process “is a more public process.”

“If we are considering a legislative process, is there an opportunity to negotiate with the developer to create a more predictable outcome?” Moomaw said. “While there’s still a legislative option on the table we still have some negotiating room available.”

Nevertheless, and based on comments put forth by Salazar’s staffer John Whitney, Salazar has not decided whether he will sponsor a legislative exchange until he talks to all the stakeholders.

“We’re still in the information gathering mode,” Whitney said and added there is no timetable for Salazar’s decision.

The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners, and particularly Moomaw, have positioned themselves as key players in Village land use decisions that are ultimately the purview of Mineral County. However, Moomaw and commissioners past have argued that while Mineral County may reap the rewards of additional tax dollars once the Village is built, Archuleta County will suffer the greatest social, economic and infrastructure impacts.

“There are a fair number of impacts that will occur. The trouble with the Forest Service process is that we have some input, but our leverage is negligible,” Moomaw said.

In order to convey their concerns to Mineral County, and to gather input from Rio Grande County the legislative staffers agreed to help facilitate a tri-county meeting where all the players’ concerns could be aired.

In addition to the public meeting scheduled in Archuleta County, Village representatives will present their revised plans to Mineral County officials Tuesday Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the community meeting hall at the underground mine museum. Then, on Wednesday Oct. 7, Village representatives will make their case at 6:30 p.m. in South Fork at the South Fork community building on Colo. 149.

Echoing Jones, Moomaw said, “The biggest misconception is that nothing will happen up there.”

james@pagosasun.com