Thursday, April 06, 2006


Timeshare Roads Point To Wolf Creek Ski Development

It would be the largest ski resort development in Colorado, and it just inched closer to becoming a reality, despite the outcries from environmentalists and even the timeshare owners of the nearby ski area.

The Denver Post reports that on Monday, the Forest Service approved two short access roads to reach the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. The massive timeshare development is planned for southwest Colorado near the slopes of the no-frills Wolf Creek Ski Area, whose owners have joined a chorus of environmentalists in blasting the project.

Texas billionaire Billy Joe “Red” McCombs and business partner Bob Honts are planning a resort village that could bring 10,000 new (occasional) residents to this quiet area on the eastern flank of the Continental Divide. The Village at Wolf Creek would have up to 2,172 residential or timeshare units and 222,100 square feet of commercial space. Now, the Post reports, Mineral County has fewer than 1,000 residents.

Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Peter Clark said the law required his agency to allow the timeshare owners access to their private inholdings surrounded by National Forest.

“It was never an option for me to determine not to do it,” he said.

Opponents are crying foul. The conservation group Colorado Wild is calling for an investigation of the approval process by the Agriculture Department’s inspector general. A state senator and state representative are calling for an investigation, too. They’ve accused the timeshare developers of using political influence to sway the deal.

Clark said he hadn’t had any attempts from above to influence his decision, despite documents that show Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, met frequently with proponents, and that his deputy, David Tenny, followed the progress of the development.

The Forest Service has given the green light to a new road connecting the timeshare site to the highway, and an extension of a road through the ski area for emergency vehicles. Developers say the new roads will cost upwards of $8 million. Developers are suing the ski area to determine who will pay for them.

“We have always acknowledged the private landowners' need to access their property,” Wolf Creek Ski Area spokeswoman Michelle Ames said in a statement. “We continue to be disappointed with the timeshare developer's constant attacks on the ski area and (its owners) the Pitcher family. This includes the well-funded Texas developers' continued attempts to try and force the ski area to foot the bill for their massive timeshare project.”

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