Although only a small patch of snow remains on the Killington Slopes, ski season is still front and center for developer Steven Selbo.
Selbo, of SP Land, is in the midst of a massive undertaking that he hopes will turn the empty parking lots into a thriving village. While Selbo says plans are complete for phase one -- a $100-million investment -- the project still needs Act 250 approval. "We have support from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission for the project. We are hung up on one -- now maybe two -- issues," he said.
The Rutland, Southern Windsor County, and Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commissions were all granted party status -- and are finalizing what permit conditions will be recommended to the Environmental Commission. Selbo says the main concern has been traffic.
Two out of three planning commissions are looking to recommend that SP Land will be financially responsible for up to $25,000 to pay for a transportation study. Rutland has raised concerns about worker housing to the table.
"It was a bit of a curve ball last Thursday night that out of the blue a workforce housing or affordable housing component was introduced -- that hasn't been a part of anyone's conversation," Selbo said.
The developer is only seeking an Act 250 permit for phase one of the projected 25-year development. But Kris Hughes, Director of the Rutland Regional Planning Commission, says when you are dealing with what could become a billion dollar project, there needs to be a big picture discussion. "Do you let a quarter of the project go forward without even thinking about that, or not? I think it is responsible and probably profitable to incorporate that issue into the thinking of the design of the project -- even in phase one," Hughes said.
Permitting isn't the only problem. Charlie Demarest, a local business owner who has lived in Killington for more than 30 years, says as the ski industry continues to change, the competition is changing as well. He welcomes new business to the area, but says this development is missing one key thing -- attractions. "A village with a couple thousand bedrooms and a couple of shops is not what they want to come here to do. If they are coming here to ski, they will ski. But if they are not coming here to ski, we have to have other attractions," he said.
Demarest says he recognizes that development could bring more customers through his door, but he fears that even a billion dollar project could leave the stores empty during the off season.
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