Village at Wolf Creek appeal denied

Alamosa Valley Courier
Monday, September 2017

On September 14, a federal court again rejected pleas by the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture and the Forest Service to allow the controversial Village at Wolf Creek to go forward.

The Village at Wolf Creek is a proposed development of more than 1,700 units housing on Wolf Creek Pass. Judge Richard P. Matsch denied a motion by the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture to reconsider his earlier decision from May that overturned the Forest Service’s approval of a land exchange to make possible the proposed development.

In this latest decision, Matsch described the Forest Service’s Wolf Creek decision as “a patent effort to circumvent [the agencies] obligations to protect the natural environment of the Forest.” Judge Matsch again reiterated that the Forest Service’s decision was unlawful and an “attempt at an artful dodge of its responsibility.”

Developers have attempted to gain approval for a large residential and commercial development on Wolf Creek Pass for more than 30 years. The development would be adjacent to the existing ski area but not part of it. The proposal has generated significant public opposition from many concerned about the impacts to wildlife, the natural environment, and the unique character of the existing ski area.

On May 19, Judge Matsch ruled that the Forest Service “failed to consider important aspects of the issues before them, offered an explanation for their decision that runs counter to the evidence, failed to base their decision on consideration of the relevant factors, and based their decision on an analysis that is contrary to law.” Attorneys for the Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture a month later asked Judge Matsch to reconsider that decision, and alleged that Judge Matsch suffered from “a misapprehension of controlling law and facts.”

The court thoroughly rejected those claims and denied this new bid by Red McCombs and his development team to gain approval for the project.

“It is clear that Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture is frustrated by the court’s insistence on following the rule of law,” said Matt Sandler, staff attorney for Rocky Mountain Wild. “This is an example of the checks and balances in our system working. The honorable Judge Matsch reasonably and lawfully set aside the Wolf Creek Land Exchange decision in May and we are glad he is standing by that order with his latest decision.”

Read more at Alamosa Valley Courier.

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