Letters to the editor
East Vail values
The articles in this paper concerning the new home in East Vail require some additional clarification. There are actually 102 concerned East Vail residents who have signed the petition opposing the proposed location, the point being that this issue is not just centered around several neighbors as the papers implied, but the effect on a neighborhood. I would also like to thank them personally for all their support. In regards to the Vail Daily's CORRECTION: more than 30' means 31', and the wall is the foundation wall, not eaves, or deck, which extend farther. The average distance between buildings in this neighborhood is 75'. Also at the DRB meeting, the hired representative for the project, a professional planner's answer to the question "is this a spec house?" was "Umm, I'm not sure." However, now we learn that the owner plans to "occupy" the house while most of us will "live" in ours. In response to the claims of "NIMBYism" as well as the obscene and abusive phone message left for my family to hear, I include my statement that I read to the DRB. I hope that it can help to explain our perspective more clearly.
I would like to thank the DRB for allowing us the opportunity to speak. This is not an easy agenda item, but it is an important one. It is also an uncomfortable one.
This project has caused confrontation between current and future neighbors, as well as possible conflict within the Design Review Board itself. I appreciate and understand the many difficulties and emotions involved and I remain confident that those of you on the board will stay true to the intent and the guidelines of the DRB's charter and respond accordingly.
I wish we were discussing paint colors or window trim, but unfortunately this project has larger and more far reaching issues. Those of us who oppose this project are not objecting to our new neighbor, or his right to build his dream house. We do and always will respect an individual's right to do so. In return, we expect our rights to also be respected, with common courtesy, and following the golden rule.
I believe this is especially true in East Vail. We live in an area of Vail that's always been a little wilder, more alpine, whose residents truly love the mountain life. We are independent, yet always ready to help each other. We love the peacefulness, quiet and privacy that this area once derided as "Siberia" provides us. The character of the community is demonstrated by a successful leash-free park, a 70-something "bumper" dentist and people who are more concerned with locking up their garbage than their homes.
We feel that many aspects of this project's design and placement fail to meet the guidelines or respect the intent of the DRB. Specifically, I cite from your handbook, "compatibility of manmade structures with the environment," "Area Character Protection." "Maintain the values created in the community design so that they relate harmoniously to the natural landforms and native vegetation, and protect neighboring property owners by making sure that reasonable provisions has been made for such matters as traffic, drainage, sound and sight buffers ... and those aspects of design not adequately covered by other regulations which may have substantial effects on neighboring land uses."
The compatibility with the environment and harmony to natural landforms and vegetation is demonstrated by knocking down dozens of lodgepoles, blasting the top of the hill down five feet, erecting a tall, amply glazed, well lit living space, and then revegetating with small Aspen trees that have never grown in that area, and best case will be alive but leafless seven months of the year.
I question that area character protection is best served by building the largest home in the neighborhood, one that dwarfs and dominates everything else in appearance and scale and stands like a command post telling all in the neighborhood when it's "lights out." This seems to be a case of wanting to build a Rock Ledge Road trophy house on a more affordable East Vail lot.
This project maintains community values by as one neighbor wrote, "the design maximizes its own sale value by stripping the potential resale value and privacy out of the neighboring homes." Good design enhances a community and those around it. This design serves only itself.
The rock ridge has provided the Valleaus, Slicks, Borgens, Leslies, Ochsners and Ryersons with a natural buffer against sound and light, as well as giving us a sense of privacy that man made fences or screening trees could never match. This ridge also separates Juniper Lane from Meadow Drive for most of their length, adding to each street's individual identity. The project as designed ignores this feature and chooses instead to listen to noise from the bus route on two sides, the interstate, various backyards and driveways while casting its own considerable light like a false beacon over the entire neighborhood. I realize that the owner and architect have put considerable time and expense into this project, and yet it appears very little effort has been made to look beyond their own interests or get a feel for the surrounding area. This I have never understood. If this plan moved from the top of the rock to just below the crest it would have great views of mountains, trees, and sky as well as affording privacy to all, and having addressed the light and sound buffer issue. There is still plenty of room on the lot to have their square footage and it would certainly be less costly to build yet still be a beautiful home. I love this area because of its beauty and the great neighbors.
It would be wonderful if this project could become a part of that.