VAIL VILLAGE HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.

President - Alan Kosloff     Secretary - Ellie Caulkins    Treasurer - Patrick Gramm    Executive Director  -  Jim Lamont

Directors:  Judith Berkowitz  -  Dolph Bridgewater  -  Richard Conn  -  Bob Galvin  -  Ron Langley

Eugene Mercy  -  Bill Morton  -  Trygve Myhren  -  Gretta Parks

 

To:             Alan Kosloff, Board of Directors, Membership, and Interested Parties

From:         Jim Lamont

Date:          December 29, 2005

RE:            2005 Annual Long Report  

Presidentís Message:

One only has to walk around Vail to understand the significant changes effecting the community.  More than one billion dollars in redevelopment and infrastructure changes are either currently in process or on the planning tables.  When all these changes are complete what will Vail look like?  Will it still be the place we want to spend our time?  Will it still protect our investment?  Will Vail continue to be a community which respects open space and maintains high standards of design and planning?  We must ensure that during this process of much needed improvements, that the basic character, ambiance, and financial health of our community is maintained. 

 

It is well past time that we address the limits to growth.  Are the incentives to encourage economic development by deregulation of the communityís growth control regulations too aggressive?  Have we allowed buildings to become too tall and their density too extreme?  Is development paying it way through the payment of adequate impact fees?  Are we addressing those issues, which clearly threaten the community such as noise and other environmental problems created by Interstate 70?  These are some the issues, we believe the community should address in the coming months ahead.  

While many of Vailís most impressive aspects are quantifiable, its finest qualities are not.  The Vail Village Homeowners Association is the voice of public advocacy seeking to protect these tangible and intangible values, qualities which everyone with roots in the community appreciates. The Vail Village Homeowners Association has been in the forefront to ensure that Vail maintains the amenities and vision that are so important. 

More than 70% of Vailís property is owned by part-time residents who do not vote and often are unaware of important changes, some occurring almost daily.  Part-time residents are not able to attend the forums where decisions are made that impact our propertyÖwe are there.  The Homeowners Association represents us and ensures that we have a voice at the table.  The Homeowners Association represents these part-time residents and many full time residents as well.  We aspire to have part and full-time residents working together to meet the constant challenges. 

The following is a report of your Associationís activities for 2005 and its concern for the coming year and beyond.  

Executive Summary:

        Community Visioning:  The Association explored solutions to protect the long-term future of the communityís quality-of-life and economy. A first hand assessment, with the Town of Vail, of world-renowned European winter resorts was carried out.  It reaffirmed that Vail should continue to draw upon its European precursors for solutions and market development opportunities.  Exploratory studies were prepared demonstrating the feasibility of removing I-70 from the community.  Other studies are underway to assess other critical issues that could become effective models for the community.  It is concluded that the community should prepare a long-range grand vision plan and strategy that addresses the foregoing possibilities as well as other viable options.

 

        Infrastructure Master Planning:  The Association encouraged the Town of Vail to formulate master plans for critical community infrastructure needs, with a special emphasis on traffic circulation systems and other environmental and quality-of-life enhancements, e.g. pine-beetle and water pollution remediation, that would benefit the entire community.  Such plans could be used to assess standardized impact fees upon new development.

 

        Neighborhood Master Planning:  The Association sought the preparation of a master plan for the West Vail Shopping Center area and other non-master planned areas.  The Town of Vail has commissioned the preparation of such a plan for the shopping center area.  Subsequent to the announcement of a new lift portal by VRI, a similar plan is being prepared for the West Lionshead area.  The Association is participating as a public advocate in the preparation of these plans as they are the primary tools to evaluate and guide public or private development that will effect the mutual interests of Association members and constituents.

 

        Private Redevelopment Projects: The Association has influenced $1 billion in redevelopment projects as they affect the shared property right interests and quality-of-life issues of the membership.  The Association provides oversight of the Town of Vail review processes, including the Planning and Environmental Commission, Design Review Board, and Town Council.  It functions as a policy advocate and intermediary among affected property owners, who are members of the Association, project developers, other interest groups, and the Town of Vail on development regulatory matters. 

 

        Community Improvements Projects: The Association advocates the allocation of the multi-million dollar Town of Vail budget for community and neighborhood improvement projects that jointly benefit visitors, full and part-time residents.  The Association participates in various aspects of the programming and design of these projects.  The Vail Village streetscape and dispersed loading & delivery terminal project being the most notable.

 

        Open Space Preservation:  Enforcement provisions in certain protective covenants were successfully used in legal actions with affected property owners and supported by the Association, to prevent planned public and private projects that would have undermined the environmental integrity of open space tracts in Vail Village, Lionshead, and other similarly affected covenant protected subdivisions. 

 

        Community Facilities Planning:  The Association, as an observer, participated in the deliberations of the Vail Town Council appointed Conference Center Study Committee.  The Association sought to ensure the highest standards of accountability in the preparation and analysis for all aspects of the development proposal.  Changes in the proposal cause the Association to request its resubmission to the voters.  The Association concluded the proposal was inappropriate.  It participated in a coalition of interested parties to decisively defeat the ballot measure (806-542). 

Discusssion:

Community Visioning:  The redevelopment currently underway in Vailís Resort Town Center, Vail Village and Lionshead, is bringing nearer to completion a vision for the community that was planned in the late 1960ís and early 1970ís.  The vision of the 1970ís is inadequate to address the challenges and opportunities that have arisen since it was conceived.  These are challenges such as environmental deterioration from increased utilization of Interstate 70 and opportunities to make progress on issues such as affordable housing and community amenities.

 

In recent years the removal of impediments to redevelopment has stimulated sufficient capital investment to complete comprehensive civic improvements, such as the Vail Village streetscape plan.  This 1970 project languished uncompleted for nearly three decades for lack of funding.  Likewise, redevelopment opened the opportunity to solve long-standing quality-of-life conflicts over shortcomings in infrastructure facilities.  The enclosing of truck loading and delivery facilities throughout Vail Village and Lionshead are a prime example.  Lionshead, is receiving major private investment in commercial and residential projects, which is intended to lead to a general upgrading of an area that had begun to show signs of aging.  If redevelopment continues at or near its current pace, it will take the better part of a decade to fully complete the planned improvements.

 

Therefore, the time is nearing when the community must begin to conceive a vibrant and challenging new long-term vision for itself.  The new-found vision should be firmly linked to the insight, energy, and commitment that guided its first half-century.  The creation of such a vision must be a mutually shared effort; otherwise, it will not endure.  It should also be founded in overcoming adverse factors, which left unresolved, threaten the communityís quality-of-life and economic viability.

 

Considerable effort must be made to insure Vailís emerging potential is brought to a wider national and international market. Every effort must be made to insure that the community continues its positive momentum at a pace which builds upon wisely calculated innovation and investments.  Any sign of flagging towards the pursuit of a proactive future and the highest standard of excellence could discourage forward thinking investors.

 

There is concern that more attention should be directed at growth related issues.  The Association is concerned that development should be evaluated in light of its ability to pay for community improvements which are a subsequent outcome of new growth and development.  There is a need to begin to impose standardized impact fees to be applied to a wide range of community needs required as a result of new development.  Currently, impact fees are assessed in an ad hoc method inconsistently applied from project to project.  The current method of assessing impact fee is being criticized from within the development industry itself.  Therefore, to reduce conflict within the industry and community about what constitutes an impact fee or public benefit, it is recommended that a system of standardized impact fees be implemented. 

 

The Association has begun the exploration of constructive opportunities that may be worthy of consideration in shaping a compelling and practical image for the communityís future.  In principle,

 

there are many advantages for Vail to continue drawing upon its European antecedents for inspiration and guidance. It is recognized that the Vail community should not become a parody of European accomplishments, but must reshape appropriate solutions to its own unique purposes.  Toward this end, the Associationís Executive Director, accompanied by the Director of Public Works for the Town of Vail conducted a firsthand assessment of world-renowned European winter resorts.

 

The primary mission of the assessment was:

 

        To identify methods that could be applied to overcome the consequences of the environmental deterioration and proposed expansion of Interstate 70, as well as other environmental blights such as pine beetle. 

        Assess the European winter resort population as a potential source to broaden the Vail destination guest market. 

        Better understand the role that cultural and other forms of tourism could have in building community and which lend themselves to diversifying the destination guest experience and market. 

        Identify technological advancements and other innovations which could enhance Vailís competitive position as a resort, invigorate its quality of life and sense of community.

 

It was found that there are several technological solutions and other economic opportunities, which could be successfully transferred and adapted to benefit, Vail both in the short and long-term.  There are advantages for Vail to continue drawing upon its European antecedents for inspiration.  To achieve substantive progress in any of these areas of investigation will require a cooperative effort among several community organizations.

 

Research has been initiated to probe further into these areas of assessment.  A series of reports and whitepapers are in preparation.  A whitepaper concerning long-range options to remove I-70 from the community has been prepared.

 

Summary of 2005 Association Activities:

Redevelopment Projects: The Association has influenced $1 billion in redevelopment projects as they affect the shared property right interests and quality-of-life issues of the membership.  The Association provides oversight of the Town of Vail review processes, including the Planning and Environmental Commission, Design Review Board and Town Council.  It functions as an intermediary among affected property owners, who are members of the Association, project developers, other interest groups, and the Town of Vail.  Redevelopment projects in progress are the Vail Front Door, Crossroads, Four Seasons, Vail Plaza Hotel, One Willow Bridge Road, Sonnenalp Bavaria Haus, Evergreen Lodge, Tivoli Lodge, Manor Vail Lodge, Lionshead Core Site (ArraBelle), and Ritz-Carlton Residences.  Residential home development was tracked to insure that regulatory processes were being fairly and consistently applied.  It should be expected that the Town Council will consider the repeal of GRFA in single-family and duplex zone district in 2006.

 

P3 & J Project Parking Structure/Park completed:  The dedication on July 4th of the Bob Parker Plaza and Founder Parking Garage (a.k.a.  P3&J project) was a hallmark accomplishment for the Association.  The dedication ended an initiative begun in 1991 with the formation of the Homeowners Association.  It was the purpose of the Association to insure that development of the site protected the interest of the surrounding neighborhood and was developed in accord with legal and other requirements.  At the time the Association was formed, the site was being proposed as a central truck dock for Vail Village and the neighborhood was already clogged with trucks staging handcart deliveries to Bridge Street businesses.  The Associations effort opened the door to a cooporative effort with Vail Resorts (the owner of the property) and the Town of Vail that laid the ground works for the Vail Front Door project and other initiatives to upgrade Vail Village.  Efforts included a new disperse loading and delivery system for Vail Village and $12-$14 million in streetscape improvements.  The $10 million P3& J project created a public park, major streetscape improvements throughout the immediate area and a landscaped enclosed private parking structure for property owners in Vail Village.  

 

Crossroads Redevelopment:  A proposal to redevelop the Crossroads complex in Vail Village was withdrawn by the developer from consideration by Vail Town Council in August.  The Town Council at that time was opposed (4-3) to the project.  The proposal will again be submitted in December for reconsideration.  It is the perception of some observers that developer activism in the recent Town Council election may have reversed the earlier split vote of the Council so that the proposed project would now receive approval.     

The Association favors the redevelopment of Crossroads, but has been unable to forge a compromise between the developer and adjacent property owners who objected to the height, site plan and density of the proposal.  Likewise, the Association remains to be convinced that the project is in full compliance with the spirit and intent of the Town of Vailís development regulations which apply equitably to all property owners in the same or similar circumstances as it applies to impact fees and the like. 

There are significant differences between the proposal, the Vail Village Master Plan, and the underlying zoning.  A nearby condominium project, with similar disparities, was required to first amend the master plan and underlying zoning through the public review process.  The dispute arises because the project is exempt from the scrutiny involved with the amendment procedures as it is a proposed Special Development District (SDD).  Disputes over interpretation and exemptions give the appearance the SDD is being improperly used as a grant of special privilege.  The Association advocates the consistent and equitable enforcement of zoning regulations and planning procedures upon all property owners that share the same or comparable zoning benefits.   

Applying a likewise comparison to impact fees, the Crossroads developer has thus far not successfully demonstrated that his project contributes its fair share to adequately offset the long-term effects upon public infrastructure.  Impact fees and the valuation of other claimed public amenities should be uniformly assessed of all new development.  Public benefits that are represented as public amenities do not release the developers from placing them under the control or ownership of the Town of Vail. The demonstration of public benefits also does not release the developer from paying impact fees that should be ranked in accord with their relative importance to the public welfare, beginning with public safety and ending with public art.   

The purpose of the impact fees and public amenities is to relieve business and property owners from an increased tax burden for upgrading the communityís infrastructure and the like resulting from development.  All proposed contractual agreements must be made available to the public prior to the project proceeding through the public review process, not at the end.  Such was not the case in the previous proceeding and was partially responsible for the rejection of the proposal. 

Town of Vail Conference Center Rejected:  The Vail electorate rejected a $64 million ballot proposition for a Vail Conference Center (806 to 542).  Voters narrowly approved a $44 million Center in 2001. The development plan for that proposition was ill-defined.  The location for the Center was changed soon after the election.  The preparation of a definitive plan by a bipartisan Council appointed study committee took more than two years and resulted in a $20 million increase over the 2001 proposal.  The Association participated as an observer in the deliberations of the committee.  The Association concluded, as evidence mounted, that the 2001 approval had been altered to a degree that the proposition must be referred back to the voters.  The Associationís position helped bring the issue back to the voters.  The Association also arrived at the conclusion, from information presented by experts to the committee, that there were several factors which fatally flawed the proposition.  It determined that the Center would become a distraction to the communityís ongoing redevelopment efforts by defusing the focus of its destination resort economy.  Secondly, there were negative competitive trends in the national convention and conference market place which could have caused the Center to become an increased burden to taxpayers.  The Association, in a cooperative effort with others in the community, was successful in communicating their shared concerns to the Vail electorate. 

Planning Issues:

Master Planning: The Association is urging the Town of Vail to consider adopting a tiered approach to it master planning agenda.  There is concern that the scope of various master planning needs will be in conflict causing progress to be slowed and agendas to be in conflict.   Yet there is a need to integrate the various plans so that there is compatibility and continuity.  It is suggested that the preparation of various master plans be segregated in a way that long-range planning does not inflict delays upon mid and short range planning efforts. There are overlapping elements from one level of master planning to another.  Each plan proceeds simultaneously on parallel tracks with interrelated elements being available at the appropriate time. 

 

The master planning tiers are:

        Community long-range vision

        Infrastructure systems 

        Neighborhoods (sub-area)

        Community facilities 

 

The intent is each tier of master planning proceeds at a pace that provides recommendations to each of the other planning tiers when it is required.  This approach allows a neighborhood plan to proceed, without having to be diverted or wait upon the completion of a master plan for a particular infrastructure system.  A master plan for the South Frontage Road or the proposed Central Boulevard, are examples of an infrastructure system.  The South Frontage Road serves several neighborhoods (sub-areas).  Neighborhoods (sub-areas), which are currently being master planned are West Lionshead and the West Vail Shopping Center area.  The infrastructure master plan for the entire route of the proposed Central Boulevard would proceed on an independent schedule.  However, those neighborhoods or sub-areas being master planned would be given priority in the infrastructure planning process for Central Boulevard so that recommendations are included and compatible for a particular sub-area master plan in accord with the time schedule required to complete the plan.  The result will be that when the infrastructure master plan is completed there will be continuity and consistency of design and service along the entire route. 

 

Interstate 70 removed - the basis for a long-range vision plan for Vail: The Association explored alternative solutions to protect the long-term future of the communityís quality-of-life and economic stability, in light of growing environmental deterioration associated with I-70 and its planned expansion.    Exploratory studies were begun to assess the potential of removing I-70 from the community altogether by means of a bypass tunnel or burying it in structures.  Preliminary findings indicate such possibilities are technically feasible. Strategies include the private development of the abandoned I-70 right-of-way through Vail to finance the project.  The studies revealed opportunities to reverse engineer an appropriate visionary plan and begin implementing it immediately.  It is recommended that the community take up the preparation of a long-term vision plan that addresses the foregoing possibilities.

 

Infrastructure Master Planning:  The Association has urged that a master plan be prepared for critical infrastructure projects, such as South Frontage Road improvements.  The master plan would be subject to the public review and comments process, which are common to all master plans and would be used to calculate the cost of funding improvements.  The estimated cost could then be used to establish rates for applicable impact fees and capital budgeting.  Similar plans are needed for the parking, transportation terminals, real time traffic management signage and upgrades to the entire frontage road system.

 

  South Frontage Road Improvement Project: The Association is encouraging the Town, Vail Resorts and others to develop an all-inclusive improvement plan for the South Frontage Road in the resort town center.  The purpose of the effort is to produce an attractively beautified and efficient central circulation boulevard for the resort town center of Vail Village and Lionshead, from Ford Park to Cascade Village.  The proposal is an extension of the Associationís successful effort to encourage the Town and VRI to undertake investments throughout Vail Village and Lionshead as part of the Vail Front Door and New Dawn projects which will beautify the areaís streetscape and improve guest facilities.  In this instance, it is the intent to insure that circulation and beautification improvements are made to the South Frontage Road as redevelopment projects are approved in Vail Village and Lionshead.  Once these redevelopment projects are completed the beautification and other improvements to the South Frontage Road will also be ready to accommodate an increase in traffic for a new clientele. 

 

The South Frontage Road is the primary circulation corridor by which automobiles and trucks gain access to strategically located parking and loading facilities.  It is these facilities which allow many streets in Vailís resort town center to be fully accessible to pedestrians, thereby contributing to the areaís European ambiance.

 

The South Frontage Road, with the exception of the Main Vail roundabout, has had the same utilitarian appearance of uninterrupted asphalt since the late 1960ís.  Unlike the plan which is guiding the successful renewal of the streetscape throughout Vail Village, there is no overview plan or design process which directs the consistency of aesthetic and engineering standards.  Consequently, planned improvements are accepted for their political expediency, rather than compliance with qualitative standards and a cohesive vision.  The lack of progress is in large measure due to an ongoing debate to allow overflow parking along sections of the Frontage Road right-of-ways. 

 

The Association seeks to resolve this debate by development of a long-range plan which will provide locations for additional off-street parking facilities at key locations along the South Frontage Road.  This strategy is consistent with long established town planning principles for Vail.  As these facilities are completed overflow parking will be removed from the South Frontage Road, and replaced with a roadway designed to maximize safety and capacity, while minimizing asphalt and concrete. 

 

The Association suggests that independent design teams, particularly those with fresh ideas, be employed in a design competition to present the community with options for the redevelopment of South Frontage Road into a central boulevard which include strategies for the location of future parking structures and necessary mass transportation facilities. 

 

        Central Boulevard Plan: The plan should be extended in a second phase to include the design for the central boulevard from Cascade Village to the West Vail Shopping Center (Community Town Center).  The South Frontage Road would be link to the North Frontage Road through a new $15 million I-70 underpass located in the vicinity of Cascade Village and the Timber Run affordable housing complex.   

 

Neighborhood Master Planning: 

The Town of Vail commissioned, after being urged by the Association for the past three years, the preparation of a master plan for the West Vail Shopping Center area.  A similar plan is also being prepared for the West Lionshead area, subsequent to the announcement of a new lift portal by VRI.  The master plans are being prepared as the primary tool to evaluate and guide public or private development proposals.  The Association participates as a public interest advocate as each of these plans will affect quality-of-life and the economic interests of its members. 

 

        Vailís Community Town Center Plan:  The concept for the redevelopment of the West Shopping Center area is to create a mixed-use community town center.  The primary purpose of the Town Center is to provide for commercial and residential uses which focus on the domestic, (as contrasted to the resort) needs of the community.  The plan, now in its formative stages, would bring increased density to provide for more retail, lodging, residential and office opportunities.   There would be increased supporting infrastructure for parking, loading and delivery and  community facilities.  Traffic circulation and building height is being designed to minimize impacts on existing adjacent residential properties.   The challenge for the Town is how does it encourage all property owners in the planning area to participate by redeveloping their property in conformity with the plan?  Some are suggesting that the plan should not be adopted until there is a master development agreement approved by all affected property owners.  Such an agreement would require all property owners to contract with a primary developer who would assume the financial risk to redevelop the entire area.

 

        West Lionshead Portal Plan:  Vail Resorts, Inc. has submitted an application for a ski lift in the vicinity of its maintenance facility.  The company has acquired several developed properties in the area. The Town of Vail has initiated a master planning process for the area.  The development concept being discussed includes on the South Frontage Road consideration of a major employee parking structure, residential and commercial development, the relocation and consolidation of VRIís maintenance facility, a significant realignment and expansion of the South Frontage Road, a mass transit terminal and the enhancement of the Sandstone Creek stream tract.   The purpose of the new lift portal is to support the development of new residential and commercial use as well as to accommodate related on-mountain transportation and service needs.  The point has been discussed that commercial uses in the area should also focus on insuring that the proposed parking structure is used in the evening hours and that the area should provide a positive sales tax return to the Town of Vail. The Association has requested that the realignment of the South Frontage Road be incorporated into a new master beautification and traffic circulation plan for the South Frontage.  The Association has recommended that on-street parking be discouraged and that the width of the roadway emphasis a traffic circulation pattern that minimizes the amount of asphalt and increases the landscape areas giving the Frontage Road the appearance of a parkway, rather than the industrial appearance it now has.  Further, the Association has requested that the proposed I-70 Simba Run underpass be giving serious review and consideration as part of the master planning process.

 

        Tract K Snow-Cat Route and Cascade Village/Glen Lyon Lift Remain in Doubt:  The Association has urged that the Town of Vail and VRI work with appropriate parties in Cascade Village and the Glen Lyon subdivision to integrate their interests into the West Lionshead Portal Plan.  The contractual agreement that VRI has for the Cascade Village lift will expire within the next several years.  VRI has requested Glen Lyon property owners to abandon certain covenant protections on the Town of Vail owned Tract K open space so that the access route for VRIís snowcats can be relocated from its present route on West Forest Road.  The proposed new route to be built in conjunction with the redevelopment of West Lionshead would not impact any adjoining residential properties in Glen Lyon according to technical studies conducted by VRI in compliance with Town of Vail regulations.  A number of Glen Lyon property owners have blocked a covenant amendment that would permit the Tract K access route.  It is reported that those blocking the proposed route have requested certain conditions and considerations in return for their agreement to amend the covenants.  VRI has refused to accept the proposition and has withdrawn its application pending before the Vail Town Council to construct the access route.  It is surmised that property values in Glen Lyon could well be affected should VRI refuse to renew its agreement to accommodate the Glen Lyon lift.  If a compromise is to be reached over Tract K access, it will most likely turn on the terms of the continued existence of the Glen Lyon lift.   The Association has taken the position that the acceptance of the Tract K snow-cat access route and related operation agreements will improve the quality-of-life and serve the economic interest of all affected residential property owners, both on West Forest Road, Cascade Village, and the Glen Lyon subdivision.  It favors a quid pro quo agreement that, in exchange for VRIís acceptance of responsibilities to insure the continued existence of the Glen Lyon lift; property owners in the Glen Lyon subdivision with approve a covenant amendment allowing the snow-cat access route on Tract K.  The Association does not support the use of eminent domain (condemnation) powers by the Town of Vail, except in circumstances where there is mutual agreement among all concerned parties. 

 

Community Facilities Planning:  There is a need to provide a comprehensive approach to the planning and prioritization of all types of community facilities.  The failure to have such a plan for recreation facilities led to severe financial difficulties for the Vail Recreation District.  The District has for the most part recovered from five years of financial and organizational readjustment.   The difficulties caused political conflict between the Recreation District and the Town of Vail.  In general the Town of Vail owns either or both the land and improvements which the Recreation District operates under various lease agreements. 

 

The Association takes the position that all community facilities, whether they are recreational, cultural, social or wellness related, should be incorporated in a comprehensive plan which identifies sites, development programs and costs for a diverse range of facilities for all age groups.  The prioritization for the development of these facilities should be ranked according to each facilityís ability to serve the broadest distribution of age and income as represented by the communityís primary full and part time resident and guest constituencies.   Such an approach will, in the estimation of the Association, yield the highest utilization and return on investment for each facility.

 

To continue with the same evaluation process that led to these Vail Recreation District difficulties would be inappropriate and counter productive. A new system of evaluation and planning must be applied. The Recreation District because of its limited mission should not be the sole entity involved in planning for community facilities.  Organizations which provide other community oriented amenities and enhancements, in conjunction with those who represent economic and community constituent or philanthropic interests, should be incorporated in the planning process. 

 

Environmental Issues:

Open Space Preservation:  An important strategy of the Association is protecting open space and the protective covenants that apply.  The Association assisted the neighborhood in contesting plans for a private commercial deck on public open space land protected by covenants behind the Tap Room bar and restaurant.  Recently an Eagle County Court issued a temporary injunction to stop the construction of the deck based on the facts.  If the ruling is appealed, the Association will continue to assist and send an important message that open space and related covenants in Vail will be vigorously defended.

 

The Tap Room bar and restaurant received permission from the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts, Inc to construct a private dinning deck on a portion of Tract E, a covenant protected open space parcel located behind the restaurant, adjacent to Pirate Ship Park.   The protective covenants prohibit any non-recreational structures being built on the tract.  Affected residential property owners brought the matter before the Eagle County District Court seeking an injunction to stop construction of the deck.  The Court granted the injunction on its merit and set the matter for trial.  The Court could not grant an injunction if there was not a substantial probability that the property owners would prevail at trial.

 

The Association objected to the Town of Vailís approval and assisted the effected property owners to maintain the integrity of the protective covenants.  It was the concern of all those involved with the effort that should a violation of the protective covenants be allowed to stand it would weaken the protections for several other covenant protected open space and stream tract parcels throughout Vail Village and Lionshead.  

 

The Association has been successful in recent years in restoring protective covenant protections in other instances where development on covenant protected stream tract was in dispute.  It is supportive of an ongoing effort by the Town of Vail to restore the integrity of stream tract and other open space lands by causing the removal of unauthorized improvements that are inconsistent with covenant protections.  The Association also advocates the restoration of covenant-protected lands that have been abused or improperly disturbed. 

 

Pine Beetle Infestation:  The Association investigated methods to reduce the wildfire danger and restore the scenic qualities of alpine environment by the large tract of beetle killed pine trees (beetle kill) which increasingly continues to blanket the region surrounding Vail.  There is increasing public recognition that as the infestation spreads the stands of dead and dying trees are having a negative impact on the tourism economy because the scenic qualities of the region are one of its major drawing cards.  Removal or remediation of the dead stands in all likelihood is consistent with the United States Forest Service traditional policies of resource management, on whose land much of the unrestrained and blighted devastation has occurred. 

 

Pine Beetle Clean Up:  On its assessment tour of European winter resorts, the Association identified a biomass steam and electrical generation system which  was in part fueled by beetle kill.  The system was in Lech, Austria and was used to provide steam heat to a ski village occupying an area on a scale of with Vail Village and Lionshead.  A smaller system in the same community was used to produce both steam heat and electricity.  Each of these systems meet or exceed stringent environmental protection standards.  The Association was instrumental in inviting the Town Manager of Lech to make a presentation regarding the applicability of a similar system in Vail.  The system could be fueled by beetle kill, as the local logging industry does not have sufficient capacity to utilize the shear volume of dead and dying trees in the region.  The Town of Vail has continued its effort to remove beetle kill, particularly in neighborhoods where the presence of these trees have increased the threat from wildfire. 

 

It is reported that the Town may undertake the study of applying various biomass generation strategies to the needs of the community.  In recent months various actions have been proposed in the United States Congress to provide funding for remediation and clean up programs.  The Association has advocated that the Town of Vail seek funding for the study and application of a biomass generation project in the community.  The Association continues to urge for public information and improved reporting on the subject by the local media.

 

I-70 Black Gore Clean Up:  The Association supported efforts by the Vail and Eagle County governments to increase the funding for the clean up of Black Gore Creek, on Vail Pass, which has been heavily polluted by road traction sand from Interstate 70.  The efforts of the Association resulted in increased funding for a local organization that is working to resolve this threat to Vailís water supply and Gore Creek, one of the communityís most valued environmental and recreational amenities. The Association may need to consider taking further action, as congressional intervention may become necessary to cause the Colorado Department of Highway (CDOT) to become more aggressive in their remediation and clean up efforts.  The clean up has been underway for nearly a decade with limited results.

 

I-70 Noise Mitigation and berms:  The continuation of the Town of Vail/CDOT program to build noise berms from road sand extracted from Vail Pass Black Gore Creek was advocated by the Association.  Support was given to the Bald Mountain Road Homeowners Association in their effort to resolve utility easement issues that were hampering the expansion of its ongoing I-70 noise barrier berm project in Booth Creek.  It also supported an effort by the Town of Vail to study noise mitigation measures that could be employed to reduce offensive noise level from I-70.  The results of the study indicate that in the long-term no known method will be effective in substantially shielding the entire community from industrial levels of noise pollution generated by traffic on I-70.  Studies indicate a geometric increase in traffic and related noise problems over the coming decades.  As a result of the reports finding the Association has taken up the study of methods to remove I-70 from the community. 

 

The Association supports the effort by the Town of Vail to reduce Interstate noise pollution through more aggressive enforcement of the speed limits.  The Townís effort made some progress and the Association urges increasing the budget to encourage more enforcement. 

 

Noise Ordinance Amendment and Enforcement:  The Association supported the removal of a noise limitation requirement from the Townís zoning ordinance that was in conflict with the noise control ordinance.  Promised recommendations from the Town staff for code modification which would improve enforcement of the noise pollution created by amplified sound in the lower register of sound frequencies has not as yet been forthcoming.

 

Town of Election Reforms: Quirkiness in the Town of Vail election procedures and fair campaign practices policies were reported by the Association during the Town election.  The subject of the Association report was highlighted when immediately after its publication a Council candidate had to withdrawn from the race.  His withdrawal was required because of term limits requirement in the Colorado constitution, adopted by referendum some years before.  The Town had either not known or understood the applicability of the State mandated term limits requirement.  There is additional anecdotal evidence that a reform of the Homerule Charter may be necessary, as well as a bipartisan oversight evaluation of the communityís ethics and procedures with respect to its fair-campaign-practices.  There is confusion and concerns about the role of public employees and the local media in influencing campaigns. 

 

Effect of Transient Employee Voter Block Experienced: The influence of the transient employee voter was clearly felt in the election.  A recruitment, registration, and block voting operation targeting this group is in large measure responsible for determining the outcome of the election.  The operation was conducted by a coalition of disgruntled developers.  A transient employee voter is one who has residence in the community for more than 30 days and typically moves away in a year or less.  More than 300 new voters were registered in the Town of Vail between January and the November election.  There was a 131vote margin between the leading and the 7th place finisher in a field of nine candidates for four open council seats.  Block voting is very important when the full tally of votes cast was 1356, which is a typically high turnout (35.7%) for a regular Vail election.  It is reported that residency requirements is some Colorado communities can be as long as one year.  Questions have been raised if Vail, as a home rule community, has the latitude of varying its residency requirement beyond the 30-day minimum standard.

 

Intergovernmental Liaison Ė Eagle County Airport:  The Association initiated an effort to upgrade the Eagle County Airport.  An assessment was conducted of the airport functionality from the standpoint of air travel between Vail/Eagle County Airport and Chicago OíHare.   

The importance of the Eagle County Airport to the future of Vail cannot be overstated.  Every effort must be made to expand service and upgrade facilities for both public and private aircraft.  Improvements are being made, such as the installation of a new radar system, that will improve airport landing and takeoff operations during bad weather.   The County Commissioners are requesting an airport interchange on I-70 giving passengers direct access, eliminating delays now caused by routing airport traffic through downtown Eagle and Gypsum on two-lane state highway.   The proposed interchange is in competition with proposed I-70 improvements from other Eagle County communities. 

A complete assessment of the airport limitations and opportunities should be included in long-range master planning efforts for Vail.  The greater use there is of the Eagle County Airport, the greater will be the conflict with surrounding communities.   

Any limitation on service could adversely affect Vail.  The Association suggests that the Countyís mass transit system (ECO) should provide direct bus service to passenger between Vail and the airport terminal.

Such a service will provide another incentive for destination guest to access the Vail through the Eagle County Airport.  Greater effort, which would benefit the consumer, should put to creating competition among those entities that service the airport. 

Vail should urge Eagle County authorities to make plans to upgrade the airport that are in sequence with planned changes and shifts of trends in the complexion of Vail and the other communities the airport serves.  Oversight of the airports capacity, service, and facilities should be incorporated into the function of the Town of Vail and the communityís business associations.  It can be foreseen, even now, that all-weather improvements are necessary, including enclosing the access ways between the terminal and planes.  The airport plan should be brought into balance and sequenced with projected growth for its service region. 

The financial planning for subsidies required to expand service to Eagle from more national hubs should be long-range.  It should be sequenced with projected advances in aircraft technology as well as growth in visitor and residential populations.  A plan should be put in place to accommodate international flights and customs facilities as economic and related factors permit.  Planning should be premised on service demands that would arise for major international events being scheduled more frequently into Vail and the region.  

Association Whitepapers and Reports Published: the Association during the past year published the following reports and white papers.  Most are available on the Associationís website. 

 

        Vailís Economic and Community Development Evolution - The Next Chapter.

        Expanding or Eliminating Interstate 70 - A long-term vision plan for Vail.

        VVHA Crossroads Recommendation to Vail Town Council.

        Interstate 70 Expansion  - VVHA Action  Recommendation.

        Pine Beetle Infestation - VVHA Action Recommendation.

        Crossroads at Vail/VVHA Report to theTown Council.

        Vail Conference Center VVHA Position Statement.

        Town of Vail Election - Lapse of Fair Campaign Practices.

        VVHA Position Statement for the proposed Vail Conference Center Election.

        Post Town of Vail Election Report

        Open Space Preservation - Protective Covenant

 

Membership and Organization Issues:  The Board of Directors has adopted governance guidelines to provide for the expansion and succession of its Board membership.  Emeritus positions have been created for retiring members who desire to continue their working relationship with the Board of Directors.   Balloting for the 2006 Board of Directors has been completed.  

 

The Association and its Board lauds the civic contribution of Director Ellie Caulkins for her commitment and dedication to the Colorado Opera through the Caulkins Family generous patronage, which provided for the construction of the newly dedicated Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver.

 

The Association has reorganized it membership development program and will carry out a targeted membership drive during the first quarter of 2006.  Efforts were made to stimulate the formation of advocacy Homeowners Associations in both East and West Vail.

 

The Associationís email and website communication system were upgraded.  The email system was used extensively during the Town of Vail election and is credited with getting the Associationís views before the community and electorate.

 

Press relations were conducted with the local media, the Denver Post, and New York Times.  Several Association authored op-ed commentaries were serialized and letters to the editor published in the Vail Daily. 

 

Lectures concerning Vail were delivered by the Associationís, Executive Director to student groups from the University of Colorado, Leeds School of Business and Michiganís Hope College, Environmental studies program.

 

The Executive Director made monthly financial reports to the Associationís Treasurer.  The Association will complete the year with a balanced budget and a healthy fund balance.