Town planning commissioners will inspect Snow King’s latest update to its master plan today, restarting a public review process that fizzled earlier this year when elected officials and resort representatives failed to reach a compromise.
In most ways the revised document is identical to the original, for which Snow King sought approval from the Town Council in February. But the new one also concedes to nearly all the amendments the councilors asked for in the first round of negotiations and incorporates a handful of brand-new proposals.
Among the major new changes is scaling back the Snow King Hotel’s development potential in favor of building condominiums, creating more workforce housing and landing a zip line near the existing Alpine Coaster rather than in Phil Baux Park.
Resort officials also want permission to build something other than a conference center on the barren gravel lot east of Phil Baux Park. Instead, they say they might want the option to build some form of indoor recreation.
But Community Development Director Tyler Sinclair said he expects the planning commissioners’ most intensive discussion will center on two chapters of the master plan: those concerning the Snow King Resort Master Association, a sort of homeowners association for those who own property in the resort district.
The master association, known as SKRMA, was among the most contentious subjects throughout public review of the first master plan update. Some community watchdogs argued that the group has fallen short as a mechanism for funding the ski hill, while resort officials contend it was never meant to fund the ski hill at all.
Either way, SKRMA representatives agreed to submit an annual report to the town detailing information on its membership, financial state and compliance with obligations in the master plan. They also agreed to assess a 1% fee on lodging and ticket sales to ensure they always have enough in reserve to meet those obligations.
But Sinclair said planning commissioners still have some details to work out. For example, he said it’s unclear how exactly the 1% fee can be used, and whether certain properties are even included in SKRMA.
Jeff Golightly, a Snow King representative, said SKRMA also hopes to get rid of any ambiguity. He said his team is ready to iron out the details and create a mutual understanding of the master association’s expectations and requirements.
“The goal in this is something that works for the town and works for us,” he said, “and I think we fully expect that we’re going to get to a place where that happens.”
Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Director Skye Schell, one of the main advocates of the idea that SKRMA should finance the ski area, reiterated that proposal in a letter to the planning commissioners. He also argued that the fee should apply to “all commercial transactions,” including condo and home sales.
“Please remember that this is not a philanthropic proposal,” he wrote. “The various investors stand to gain a lot from this amendment.”
Some who own condos in the resort district have opposed the idea of their properties being subject to SKRMA fees, however. They argue that without representation on the SKRMA Board, and therefore without a say in how such fees would be spent, they shouldn’t be forced to hand over money.
The Planning Commission will consider the master plan update during its 5:30 p.m. meeting today at Town Hall. If the commissioners approve it, the plan will then come before the Town Council.