Stowe board rejects ski area parking proposal

The Stowe Development Review Board rejected a proposal from Stowe Mountain Resort to build a new parking lot. Creative Commons Photo

The Local Development Review Board in Stowe rejected a proposal from Stowe Mountain Resort to build a new parking lot, citing concerns about the impact of the new lot on the character of the area.

But the property company says it is considering bringing in a state council.

Traffic jams and parking on Stowe Mountain Road are a growing problem as skiing has grown in popularity. As of early 2020, the Vermont Department of Transportation was actively working with the town of Stowe and the resort to find solutions, according to Joe Segale, director of policy, planning and research at the Vermont Department of Transportation.

But when the pandemic hit, it became a low priority, as traffic congestion dropped dramatically. Now, with congestion returning to normal, if not more than before, it has become a priority again.

The Vermont Department of Transportation initially approved the resort’s proposal, which Segale says is standard practice since the mountain road is a national highway. Segale stressed that the ministry is only confirming that the proposal is safe and will not result in increased traffic, but the ministry is not considering environmental factors or the impact on the character of the area, which are left at the discretion of the various city development councils.

The review of the Stowe Board of Directors lasted almost a year. In the end, concerns about the impact of the lot on the character of the neighborhood prevailed.

“The area surrounding the project is dominated by low-density single-family dwellings and undeveloped land, open spaces and recreation grounds,” the council wrote in its Dec. 28 decision, also noting that there is coverage significant mature forest around the proposed project. parcel. “Large parking lots containing acres of impervious surfaces and associated lighting… do not match the setting or context of the area and are not compatible with the surrounding land. ”

Adam White, senior communications director for the northeast region at Vail Mountain Resorts, which operates Stowe Mountain Resort, said he was disappointed that the parking proposal was turned down.

“The proposed land would provide an additional parking option, in a key location, for customers and help reduce traffic during peak hours,” White said in a written statement. “Vail has decided to appeal the DRB’s decision to the Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division,” he wrote.

The process of appealing the decision will take time. In the meantime, the Vermont Department of Transportation is examining other short-term congestion interventions.

“When we have an almost saturated road, any small delay can cause slowdowns, like snow on the road. So we discussed coordinating with snow removal and communicating early with drivers on conditions, ”White said.

He also said things like enticing skiers to travel off-peak Рperhaps by stepping up the apr̬s-ski scene Рand dynamic message boards with traffic updates would be ways to ease traffic jams. this season.

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