Is the ski resort model dead?

Topics of a general nature regarding snowsports, which don't easily fit into one of our other Liftlines categories. This is also the place to post Letters to the Editor.

Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Patrick » Tue Nov 23, 2010 11:12 am

jamesdeluxe wrote:
rfarren wrote:Besides, that sounds a little socialist to me.

Patrick wrote::roll:

If you want to hang with us Americans, you have to become an Adam Smith groupie.


Yep, socialist like this one.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:12 pm

Patrick wrote:
rfarren wrote:
Da wood wrote: And as to the question of development that is not resort related, the local communities and elected governments can control this and are increasingly stepping in to do so.


Local governments can only control it to a certain extent. Besides, that sounds a little socialist to me.


:roll: ](*,)


I'm sorry, but I don't really want the a Gov't telling me I can't build a house in a town. That's effectively putting a moratorium on a population in a given community, which seems morally reprehensible and perhaps even unconstitutional.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Marc_C » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:19 pm

rfarren wrote:I'm sorry, but I don't really want the a Gov't telling me I can't build a house in a town. That's effectively putting a moratorium on a population in a given community, which seems morally reprehensible and perhaps even unconstitutional.

I believe they're called zoning laws.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:34 pm

Marc_C wrote:
rfarren wrote:I'm sorry, but I don't really want the a Gov't telling me I can't build a house in a town. That's effectively putting a moratorium on a population in a given community, which seems morally reprehensible and perhaps even unconstitutional.

I believe they're called zoning laws.

I understand that, however, within zones, you're not allowed to limit building new structures, however, you can regulate height, width, building function etc... Those laws wouldn't prohibit new development within a zone, or developers building high end condos etc....

My point being that, it would be naive to think that
Da wood wrote: local communities and elected governments can control
development, and real estate prices fully.

Developers can always build in nearby communities or unregulated areas nearby, which will still raise real estate prices in a given town. Frankly, having a worthwhile ski mountain nearby is very much the kiss of death for low real estate prices.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Marc_C » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:46 pm

rfarren wrote:I understand that, however, within zones, you're not allowed to limit building new structures, however, you can regulate height, width, building function etc... Those laws wouldn't prohibit new development within a zone, or developers building high end condos etc....

That's blatantly incorrect. Zoning laws can and do prohibit new development and can specify exactly what and where you can or cannot build something.

As two quick examples...

Today we would not be able to build the house we used to have in Connecticut, even if we owned the land. It was officially zoned as protected wetlands sometime around 1990 (we bought it in 1983 and lived there till 2000 - it was built in 1975).

About 6 years ago, the town of Gardiner NY passed an open space rezoning act which specifically prohibits any new construction above a certain elevation contour in certain areas of the township.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Mike Bernstein » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:49 pm

Marc_C wrote:
rfarren wrote:I understand that, however, within zones, you're not allowed to limit building new structures, however, you can regulate height, width, building function etc... Those laws wouldn't prohibit new development within a zone, or developers building high end condos etc....

That's blatantly incorrect. Zoning laws can and do prohibit new development and can specify exactly what and where you can or cannot build something.

As two quick examples...

Today we would not be able to build the house we used to have in Connecticut, even if we owned the land. It was officially zoned as protected wetlands sometime around 1990 (we bought it in 1983 and lived there till 2000 - it was built in 1975).

About 6 years ago, the town of Gardiner NY passed an open space rezoning act which specifically prohibits any new construction above a certain elevation contour in certain areas of the township.


And to further buttress that point, one of the key aspects of any zoning ordinance focuses on density. Along with building type, this is probably the most important facet of a zoning law.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Tue Nov 23, 2010 12:58 pm

Marc_C wrote:
rfarren wrote:I understand that, however, within zones, you're not allowed to limit building new structures, however, you can regulate height, width, building function etc... Those laws wouldn't prohibit new development within a zone, or developers building high end condos etc....

That's blatantly incorrect. Zoning laws can and do prohibit new development and can specify exactly what and where you can or cannot build something.

As two quick examples...

Today we would not be able to build the house we used to have in Connecticut, even if we owned the land. It was officially zoned as protected wetlands sometime around 1990 (we bought it in 1983 and lived there till 2000 - it was built in 1975).

About 6 years ago, the town of Gardiner NY passed an open space rezoning act which specifically prohibits any new construction above a certain elevation contour in certain areas of the township.


:oops: Yep, I made a mistake. I understand you are quite correct about that. I was under the impression that if in a downtown area you couldn't prohibit the building of new structures, but then I just remembered that I live in a historically protected neighborhood (you aren't allowed to build new buildings, although there are exceptions...)

Nonetheless, it would be hard to prohibit building in nearby communities, and for a ski resort it wouldn't be wise to control building. You would need hotels and the like to keep visitors happy. If you don't have hotels you won't have visitors. And if it's a big mountain then it will go bankrupt pretty quickly.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Marc_C » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:23 pm

rfarren wrote:I was under the impression that if in a downtown area you couldn't prohibit the building of new structures, but then I just remembered that I live in a historically protected neighborhood (you aren't allowed to build new buildings, although there are exceptions...)

You need to remember that zoning laws are exclusively local - there is no such concept of "...if in a downtown area you couldn't prohibit the building of new structures..." It's entirely up to the local community, usually (but not required to be) by a public vote. In a lot of communities, the vote is done by the members of the zoning commission.
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Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby rfarren » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:09 pm

Marc_C wrote:You need to remember that zoning laws are exclusively local - there is no such concept of "...if in a downtown area you couldn't prohibit the building of new structures..." It's entirely up to the local community, usually (but not required to be) by a public vote. In a lot of communities, the vote is done by the members of the zoning commission.

I know that. That's why many times those laws are draconian. It would be unconstitutional to allow building for "locals" only. I have an issue with many of those laws but understand that they often serve a reasonable purpose. Again, I believe it's naive to think that can control prices if the mountain is a popular destination. There will be too much interest in buying existing real estate and limited supply and the result will be a pricey market. If the mountain is small I believe this is a non factor.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Geoff » Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:56 am

There have been many instances where "snob zoning" has been overturned in the courts but the results of those kinds of suits seem to be totally random.

In some socialist enclave ski town, you'd think the opposite would be true... they would have zoning laws that required any new construction to have provisions for some fraction of low income housing. You want the rich outsiders to subsidize housing for the locals.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Geoff » Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:15 am

Da wood wrote:Some constructive criticism in these latest posts. Just to be clear, I have nothing to do with MRA other than they asked me to write about the current state of the industry. I do however support their conviction, drive, idealism and vision, despite the non-polished message and communication and wish them the best. As for real estate development, much is driven by the resorts, either through their wholly or partially owned real estate arms or through "strategic partnerships" with developers. And as to the question of development that is not resort related, the local communities and elected governments can control this and are increasingly stepping in to do so. Democracy at its finest...



I object to the broad generalization. Every ski area has unique local conditions. For every Intrawest story, you have a Wolf Creek counter-story. Ski resorts rarely control all the developable land within convenient driving distance (i.e. town boundary) of the ski area. If you're talking exclusively about slopeside developments for rich people, sure. If you're talking a minimalist house lot for residential housing 5 minutes off-mountain, certainly not. The problem is that real estate is a scarse resource. Some rich person might want to build a vacation home on that minimalist house lot 5 minutes off-mountain. I'm with rfarren on this one. Nobody is 'entitled' to live somewhere. If market conditions make housing prices, property taxes, ... unaffordable, live far enough away that property prices are affordable.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Nov 25, 2010 10:37 am

Geoff wrote:Every ski area has unique local conditions.

Absolutely. While the current Vail Resorts has been heavily involved in real estate, Pete Siebert only controlled mountain operations when he founded Vail. The Vail Valley development came from the demand created by his mountain.

rfarren wrote:I'm sorry, but I don't really want the a Gov't telling me I can't build a house in a town. That's effectively putting a moratorium on a population in a given community, which seems morally reprehensible and perhaps even unconstitutional.

That would be a controversial view at Lake Tahoe. Tahoe's nearly unique water clarity was being compromised by runoff from new development and construction. There is now a bi-state commission that very stringently controls what and how anything may be built in the future within Tahoe's drainage.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Marc_C » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:35 pm

soulskier wrote:Bolton Valley, Vermont just installed a wind turbine. I believe that's ski area number 3 in the US with a wind turbine(s). Note all 3 have a large snow making demands.

http://snowboardgreen.blogspot.com/2010 ... izing.html

And Bolton Valley is up for sale...yet again.
http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/article/20101206/NEWS01/101206025/Bolton-Valley-ski-resort-up-for-sale

Positive EBITDA for the first time in 6 years, yet the current owners of 4 years want to sell because "We still think there’s great opportunity there; we’re just not in a position to take advantage of it because of all the other projects we’re involved in.”

Nedde and Williams are partners in the Redstone commercial real estate company in Burlington. "Nedde called Redstone his “core business.” He said the company just received a city permit for a 400-bed apartment complex it is developing on the campus of the University of Vermont. The partners are hoping to break ground this spring on the $20 million project. In addition, Nedde said he and Williams are involved in a redevelopment project in Hinesburg and would like to build a new hotel in downtown Burlington on the TD Bank site, where they own half a city block."

Although Nedde did say he was interested in adding another wind turbine, but it sure seems his heart is in his real estate ventures, not the ski area.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby Admin » Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:37 pm

Marc_C wrote:And Bolton Valley is up for sale...yet again.


Yep, it is. Our story publishes at 8 am EST tomorrow.
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Re: Is the ski resort model dead?

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:06 am

Here's Soul Skier's big chance to create an MRA-style ski area with its own weather station (run as a for-profit venture by JSpin).
8-[

300 inches of annual snow, close to a small university town and within daytrip distance from a large city (Montreal). Not the hardcore terrain paradise that he's always talking about, but could be a good test run to work out the bugs in his model.
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