Vail Village Homeowners 2006 Annual Report
This year marks the 15th
anniversary of the founding of the Vail Village Homeowners Association. We
have grown to represent the interests of a large segment of the Town of
Vail, from a modest beginning in the east village. We offer a voice at the
table for part-time and full-time resident property owners and public
advocacy for good governance, property protection and preservation.
During this historic
re-development of Vail we have attended and will continue to attend all the
important government and developer meetings to represent you so Vail will
remain the place we love. We strive to explore every issue and know that
our opinions are respected and considered even if we do not always prevail.
Our members bring their
concerns to us for advice and guidance and we offer help. But we also act
to protect and preserve the natural treasures of our town. Vail currently
faces serious issues and our organization is helping to develop solutions…as
you will read in this annual report written by our executive director, Jim
We are most concerned about the
environment…the noise which shatters the quiet of the mountains, the pine
beetle infestation, protection of open space and the enforcement of
protective covenants…which will disappear if we are not vigilant. We are
also in the forefront of the Interstate highway discussions which will shape
Vail’s environment for the future. We share these issues with the entire
Thank you for helping us with
our goals. We welcome your comments and suggestions.
The following is an in-depth report of the
Association’s activities for 2006 and its concerns for the coming year and
Open Space, Environmental Preservation and
Public Safety Issues:
Tract E/Covenant protected open space: Attorneys filed briefs with
the Colorado Court of Appeal in litigation over a Town of Vail and
Vail Resorts, Inc. approved encroachment of a private commercial outdoor
dining deck for the Tap Room Bar and Grill into open space (Tract E) having
private protective covenants that prohibit such uses. Affected property
owners (plaintiffs) in the neighborhood filed a suit to stop construction of
the deck. According to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, had litigation not been
filed, the resulting legal precedent could endanger the enforcement of
similar covenant protections throughout subdivisions in Vail Village,
Lionshead, and Cascade Village. The plaintiffs were granted a preliminary
injunction by the Eagle County District Court to stop the owners (Remonov)
of the building in which the Tap Room is located from constructing the
dining deck. Remonov filed an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals
seeking to set aside the District Court’s decision. Once the appellate
court rules, the matter will be referred back to the District
Court for further proceedings to conclude the
dispute. The Court has set no definitive date for a decision.
See VVHA Report.
Gore Creek Stream Tract Encroachments:
Over the years a few private residences along Gore
Creek have landscaped or otherwise used the publicly owned stream tract
lands. Vail Associates created the stream tract accompanied by covenant
protections when they first subdivided the community beginning in the early
covenant protections prohibit any “improvements” on the stream tract. The
prohibitions prevent improvements such as bike paths and uses destructive to
the natural environment of the stream. In the 1990’s Vail Associates
transferred ownership of certain stream tract lands to the Town of Vail.
Association agreed to support the Town’s effort to remove encroachments in
consideration of the Town of Vail and Vail Resort, Inc. rescinding an
agreement that would have allowed improvements contrary to the stream tract
protective covenants. In 2006, the Town identified properties where they
believed encroachments have occurred. The Association successfully mediated
some instances where the alleged encroachment was in dispute.
Seibert Circle Fountain On its Way:
Association President, Alan Kosloff and Bridge Street business leader, Ron
Riley were successful in raising $125,000 to install a unique fire and water
fountain in Seibert Circle. Seibert Circle is the symbolic heart of the
Vail Village Front Door Project. The fountain created by the renowned Los
Angles firm of WET Design, will begin construction in the spring of 2007.
Generous contributions were received from several members of the Association
and Vail business interests. This is a first-of-its-kind public art project
for Vail. It brought together the community’s private cultural
philanthropic interests. They join in a partnership with the Vail Town
Council and Vail Resort Inc. who have allocated an additional $200,000 to
build the project. The fountain is a demonstration of how substantial
participation from the private sector can help temper the political
controversies that historically have accompanied public art projects in the
community. It is a further example of how the Association’s leadership and
members can put a personal face on their commitment to work with local
interests toward the mutual benefit of both the full and part-time
community. Looking around the new image that Vail Village presents today is
a result of the Association’s persistence and foresight. It is elevating
its ambition to take on similar scale improvements for the entire
See graphic of Seibert Circle Fountain.
Vail Village Streetscape
Improvement Nearing Completion: The Seibert Circle Fountain project and
the Town of Vail’s $8 million, three year streetscape program, resulted from
a culmination of efforts from the Association beginning in 1992, to
encourage the Town of Vail to upgrade the worn appearance of Vail Village.
The Association advocated the implementation of a streetscape beautification
program, in addition to a street drainage and snow melt system throughout
all of Vail Village. The plan subsequently moved forward when damaging
water line breaks required widespread repairs of utility lines in the area.
The Association’s effort paid off because its advocated
Town Streetscape Improvements Plan,
was already in place when the Town Council
and utility companies were required to move forward on a coordinated
Gore Creek Clean up and Restoration:
The Association suggested to the Town Council that RETT funds be used for
clean up of I-70 road sand fouling Gore Creek and its tributary, Black Gore
Creek. The migration of I-70 road sand into these waterways threatened the
health of the aquatic life and fisheries.
See Rocky Mountain News - Letter to Editor - Value of I70 Vail Tunnel
to Stream Cleanup.
Expansion of RETT Fund Uses:
The Town Council is expanding the use of Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT)
funds. Uses would include support of sustainable environmental practices,
recycling, forest and ecosystem health, water quality, air quality, noise,
wildlife protection, natural resource protection, alterative energy
technologies, energy efficiency or any similar purpose as determined
necessary for the environmental health and welfare of Vail, its inhabitants
Thirteenth Filing Neighborhood Association I70 Noise Berm Progress Report:
Agreements to complete the noise barrier berm were
reached between the neighborhood association, the Town of Vail, the water
and sanitation district, and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Neighborhood property owners contributed $10,000 towards the relocation of a
water line. The relocation allowed a uniform height of the berm sufficient
to protect adjacent property owners from I70 highway noise. The agreement
also allows for the extension of the berm to the west to provide additional
protection to the neighborhood. The Homeowners Association assisted the 13th
Filing Neighborhood Association with guiding the application for the water
line through its multi-jurisdictional approval process.
See VVHA Report about I70 Berm and Gore Creek Stream Clean Up.
noise berm has double importance to the Association’s environmental
preservation efforts. The berm is being constructed of waste road sand that
is currently polluting Black Gore Creek. The road sand is being removed by
CDOT and relocated to the noise berm. The Association is working with
environmental groups and governmental entities to protect and restore
natural waterways in Vail.
Homeowners Association has requested the 13th Filing Association
create a “vision plan” that is a reflection of the desires of neighborhood
property owners. As the noise berm nears completion over the next several
years, new opportunities for landscape and amenities will be opened. The
neighborhood’s plan would become part of the Homeowners Association’s
community-wide vision plan. The combined vision plan gives greater weight
to the Homeowners Association’s on-going efforts to advocate improvements
and protections for the neighborhood.
Vail Village Noise Enforcement: A
major accomplishment of the Front Door Project is the creation of a plan to
disperse enclosed truck terminals throughout Vail Village. The terminals
will allow for the eventual removal of on-street truck loading and delivery
in Vail Village. The removal of on-street truck parking will further reduce
noise pollution and visual blight from Village and its surrounding
neighborhoods. The Association continues its effort to ensure outside
amplified sound regulations are enforced. Efforts to modify the regulations
and extend the hours that outdoor amplified sound can be conducted were
turned back through the efforts of the Association. The Association’s
efforts are directed at methods of regulating outside amplified sound so
that commercial and residential interests have a compatible and mutually
Wildfire Community Evacuation Plan:
The Association is working with interested property owners and local
authorities to encourage the creation of a detailed wildfire evacuation
plan. The Association urged the Vail Town Council to take immediate action,
because of the severity of beetle-killed forests surrounding the community.
The Vail Fire Department is now preparing an evacuation plan. The
Association asked the Town Council to see that the plan is available in
advance of the coming fire season.
The Association Suggestions:
The Town of Vail to distribute a copy of the plan
to all property owners so that it is available in every residential unit in
the community and property managers be well informed and trained to work
with local authorities in case of a wildfire emergency. The evacuation
plan should include life safety evacuation procedures, assembly areas and
See Town of Vail Emergency Wildfire Evacuation Plan.
The current plan addresses procedures for government officials, but does not
give specific instructions to property owners regarding what to do in case
of a wildfire emergency, other than to follow the instructions of local
authorities. The Association noted to the Vail Town Council that
authorities should not be solely dependent upon the 911 reverse calling
system that is currently being relied upon. The 911 system is reported to
be undermanned and funded.
See Town of Vail Wildfire Protection Plan
Wildfire Hazard Map.
The severity of the wildfire threat is regional, involving hundreds of
thousands of acres of dead and dying forest. Wildfire experts have been
reported as saying that the scope of the problem could result in one of the
largest forest fires in history. United States Forest Service officials are
now dismissive of natural cycles ever bringing the beetle kill blight under
control or that dead forests are less prone to wild fire. Consensus appears
to be forming that removal of the dead trees is desirable. See
Rocky Mountain News article about forest cleanup.
The Town of Vail and other communities in the region are beginning to create
firebreaks around developed areas and to reforest blighted areas. However,
firebreaks are not always the answers particularly in avalanche and
landslide prone areas, as they are not a foolproof final defense in the face
of a catastrophic forest fire.
The Town of Vail has moved forward with
regulations to require fireproof roofing materials on all new structures and
when roofing is replaced on existing structure. It has also established an
advisory service through the Vail Fire Department that can make
recommendations to property owners on methods to protect their property.
The Town of Vail is expected to require property owners to remove dead tree
from their property, at the owner’s expense.
In addition to the removal of pine beetle deadfall, the Town of Vail is
cutting diseased stands of aspen trees to create wildfire breaks. This past
summer beetle kill and aspen clearance took place in the Cascade Village and
the Matterhorn neighborhoods. Other areas in the community are scheduled
for similar treatment. The Association raised concern that there is no
agreement among forestry experts that removal of extensive stands of aspens
will insure their regeneration or stem the blight that infects them.
See New York Times article -
Emblem of the West Is Dying, and No One Can Figure Out Why
Long-term Solutions Proposed In USFS Study to
Improve Forest Management: The
Association participated in academic research into methods that can be
adopted by communities to deal with the “dead forest” phenomenon. The slow
and disjointed response to the massive pine beetle infestation requires
accountability. Change in the resource management culture and structure of
the USFS, led the Association’s observations and recommendations.
Privatization and franchising of certain forestry functions may be desirable
and necessary. Areas accessible to existing and emerging metropolitan areas
should be managed to protect the environmental, recreational and aesthetic
value of forestlands.
The Association Determined the Following
Objectives: Research into disease
resistance tree and plant species that are more compatible with rapidly
changing climatologically conditions should be given priority. Special
attention should be given to preventing pollution, preserving and restoring
“natural” water retention characteristics of the ecology in watersheds
areas. Timber cutting must include reforestation, mulching and
re-vegetation practices so that the pace of forest regeneration is
hastened. Research and incentives should be pursued to develop forest
products, including the installation of an environmentally clean,
decentralized and scalable biomass heat generation system using dead trees
Biomass (Green) Energy Source Desirable to
Improve Forest: The Association
suggested in 2005 that public and private funds be used to encourage the use
of biomass generating technology, fueled by harvesting dead trees
surrounding the community, to generate steam to heat the Town’s extensive
snow melt system as well as to generate electricity. Biomass generators
could speed the removal of extensive areas of blighted forest surrounding
the community. The sooner the “dead forest” is removed and regenerated,
confidence will build in Vail’s economic sustainability because of the
community’s commitment to preserve the aesthetic and natural qualities of
Green Energy Sources Including Biomass
Generation Desirable to Sustain Community:
The Association applauds both the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts, Inc. for
purchasing their electric supply from a wind powered generation facility.
Both organizations are urged to take similar steps to provide incentives to
encourage biomass-generating technology to assist in the funding of “dead
forest” removal and regeneration efforts. While Vail has made no progress
on implementing a biomass energy strategy, nearby Summit County and other
Colorado jurisdictions are well on the way to building biomass energy
generating system. The USFS has recently come out in full support of
biomass systems to rid the forest of deadfall.
See Rocky Mountain News article USFS recommendation for
Biomass generator to clear up beetle kill.
Transportation and Infrastructure Issues:
A year ago the Association prepared and published a report entitled “A Grand
Vision for Vail”, which set out a new long-range planning vision for the
Vail community. The central objective of the plan is the eventual
elimination of Interstate 70 from the Vail Community. The purpose of the
report was to demonstrate methods by which the environment, lifestyle,
health and safety for the entire Vail community could be protected and
enhanced. The elements of the plan are consistent with the goals and
mission of the Homeowners Association.
Vail Grand Vision Executive Summary.
The plan proposed two basic options, to bury the
freeway in a cut & cover tunnel in its present location or create a bypass
tunnel around Vail. The projects would be financed through private
investment. Debt would be repaid either through private development over
the Interstate right-of-way or from toll revenues or a combination of both.
Technical Studies Prepared:
The Town of Vail has prepared technical studies
for both concepts. Additional studies have been conducted for future
innovation to both the community and regional mass transportation systems.
Findings from some of the studies have already been incorporated into the
Town’s master planning documents.
See Town of Vail Technical Study.
The Association’s report concluded that the Vail
community could immediately begin to put the long-range planning vision into
practice. Private and public investment could accomplish the plan’s
objective over the coming decade.
Advocacy in the Media: The Association
took up the advocacy of the plan in a series of published articles in the
Vail Daily. Since the initial publication, the regional media published
additional news articles about elements of the proposal. Reaction to the
media attention indicates that the concepts presented in the plan have
struck a responsive cord from the community and the public-at-large.
See Rocky Mountain News article -
Staring at I-70 with tunnel vision
Grand Vision Plan:
The core philosophy of the Grand Vision Plan is to seek and maintain a
harmonious balance between the community’s man made and natural environment.
The plan’s guiding principle is that the entire Vail community must directly
benefit. It is the objective of projects proposed in the plan to increase
property values through improved opportunities for social equity, economic
development, amenities, community identity, safety, environmental
preservation and enhancements.
Eliminating I70 Vail Grand Vision Plan.
I70 Quiet Pavement Short-term Solution:
The Association advocates that the Town of Vail put increased pressure on
CDOT to move-up the “estimated” 2008 installation of “quiet pavement”
through Vail to an “obligated” start date of this coming spring. The
installation of “quiet pavement” would reduce interstate noise levels two
decibels according to Town officials. The test of “quiet pavement”
installed in the Edwards area is receiving favorable comment. The outcome
of the test will determine if CDOT is to install the pavement in Vail.
I70 Highway Noise Long-Term Solutions:
The Association is making an effort to gain public attention for the idea
that I70 noise is a serious environmental threat and the need for long-term
solutions to remove or reduce the presence of I70. Long-term solutions need
to be given serious consideration now, in conjunction with the Colorado
Department of Transportation (CDOT) 20-year plan for widening the I70
mountain corridor. If consideration is not given, then the community could
find itself locked out of any option other than to endure the consequences
of more traffic, noise, and blight. The Association is concerned that
property values could be adversely and permanently affected if progressive
solutions are not identified and implemented.
I70 Coalition Recommends Lane Expansion and
Traffic Management: The I70 Coalition,
a group of participating governments and organizations, has made proposals
for lane widening and other improvements to I70 over the next twenty years.
The lane widening improvements are aimed at “pinch points” along the
mountain corridor where traffic congestion most frequently occurs. They
have also adopted a traffic management program whereby mountain resorts
offer various parking and lift-ticket incentives as inducements to their
customers to travel I70 during off-peak hours. There are recommendations to
provide an right-of-way alignment and build a railed mass transit system
between Denver, Summit County and perhaps Vail and Eagle County.
See Vail Daily news article: I70 Planning Grinds On.
Disagreements remain among the jurisdictions as to
the preferred methods of expanding lanes. Communities located in narrow
mountain valleys, such as Vail and Idaho Springs, shared similar concerns
about noise pollution and being crowded out by proposed expansion.
Communities in wide-open valleys do not share these concerns because neither
noise nor lane expansion are considered problems. The differences are more
than a minor stumbling block to the formulation of a consensus I70
Association and Town of Vail I70 Efforts:
The Association effort to provide other options to expansion and increased
pollution for Vail are being applauded by those who believe that local
communities should take responsibility for the determination of their own
economic and environmental destinies. Also, the Association is receiving
recognition, from many on the Denver Front Range for advocating a more
imaginative, environmentally sensitive and dependable transportation system
from Denver through the I70 mountain corridor.
Town administrators have ignored the noise and
lane expansion issue in their negotiations. Instead, they prefer to say
publicly that CDOT has proposed no changes for Vail. This argument ignores
CDOT’s plan to expand I70 entering and leaving Vail. Without a viable
long-term alternative, administrators are leaving the community in the
position of having to accept the inevitability of expansion and the
intolerable noise pollution.
Vail 20/20 Strategic Plan – A Battle Over I70 Noise and Expansion Ahead:
At the request of the Town of Vail administration, the Association
participated in the formulation of the 20/20 strategic planning process.
The purpose of the Association’s involvement, among others, was to ensure
that I70 issues received a fair hearing. During the public meeting there
were frequent and vocal concerns about I70 noise and other related issues
raised. The outcome from the public participation process bears little
resemblance to recent recommendations by Town Administrators for their work
priorities over the next several years. There is no mention of I70 in the
Vail 20/20 recommendations or proposed work program.
Association Suggests Need for Town Council Involvement:
The Association’s suggests that the Vail Town Council interject into the
deliberations of the I70 Coalition and CDOT the future of 170 through Vail.
The Council should request that highway authorities hasten their
participation in efforts to alter the configuration of the Interstate to
reduce, in the short-term, and, in the long-term eliminate highway noise,
air and stream pollution from the community. Further, the Council should
request that highway authorities work with the leadership of the Town and
community to mutually produce definitive plans to explore short and
long-term options for regional mass transit, lane expansions, the cut &
cover and bypass tunnel concepts.
Take Action Now or Lose the Opportunity:
The community's leadership must choose whether to plea with State and
Federal authorities when CDOT is forced to put it on the community’s
doorstep, or set in motion, the steps necessary to deliver the most
advantageous and desirable long-term solutions for the community at on their
own initiative. If the community's leaders initiate then the community will
be prepared with plans, strategies and contacts when they are needed.
Community Identity at Risk: The
Association observes, that with the move of Vail Resorts corporate
headquarters to Denver there is increasing sensitivity in Vail’s leadership
ranks about community identity and allegiances. Community allegiances are
tied to difference in philosophical and political worldview of residents on
either side Colorado’s continental divide. These differences are strongest
when addressing quality of life issues such as environmental conservations
or economic development. Community identity is shaped by a long held ethic
that Vail does not want to become another bedroom suburb of the Denver
metropolis. Ignorance of these subtleties of worldview has imperiled many a
career and business enterprise.
Vail Becoming a Commuter Suburb of Denver:
There is increasing concern that the destiny of Vail should conform to the
convenience of Front Range commuters. The debate about the expansion of I70
has come to symbolize, for many in Vail, a debate over the right and
principle of the Vail community to shape the destiny of its identity,
environment and economy.
Public’s Right to Debate the Future of I70 in Vail:
Depriving the community of the right to debate the future of I70 in full
public view sets in motion a path leading to unnecessary conflict.
Particularly, if the community has access to financial resources to shape
it’s future through private funding. The debate could be played out in the
coming months leading to the November 2007 election with five seats open on
the Vail Town Council
The Association sees little difference in the competitive privatization
strategy between pursuing private development of the I-70 tunnel concepts
and those to redevelop the Lionshead Parking structure. However, the
Association remains open to consider countering arguments.
Private Sector I70 Long Range Plan:
Discussions are underway among civic and business leaders, including the
Association, to undertake the formulation of a privately funded planning and
communication effort to further develop the concept of eliminating I70 from
the Vail community by means of a bypass or cut & cover tunnel.
Association established I70 Fund:
In recognition of its efforts, a VVHA member conveyed a generous grant to
the Association to further its efforts to combat noise pollution and other
negative consequences from Interstate 70. The Association, in
acknowledgment of the community’s interest in this matter, has established a
special fund. The I70 Fund is dedicated to furthering its efforts to
motivate public officials and others to pursue both short and long-term
improvements that bring I70 into a compatible relationship with the Vail
community. Contributions and grants for the I70 Fund should be sent to the
Association by check with “I70 Fund” noted in the memo line.
Traffic Congestion – Plan for a Make Over of
Vail Frontage Roads: The Town of Vail
prepared a schematic plan based upon the Association’s advocated concept of
a central Boulevard connecting Ford Park, Vail Village and Lionshead with
the West Vail commercial center and I-70 interchange. The central boulevard
would upgrade portions of the North and South Frontage Road. The proposed
plan is a four lane landscaped boulevard with accompanying bike path and
pedestrian walkway linking a series of roundabouts placed at strategic
intersections. A new underpass connects the North and South Frontage Road
midway between the Main and West Vail interchanges near the Simba Run
Parking and Mass Transit Advantages:
The configuration would increase traffic capacity and reduce travel time
between the commercial centers. It would provide a central spine for an
express bus route between Ford Park, West Vail and high demand stops in
between. New transit terminals are being planned for Lionshead and West
Lionshead that will complement the main terminal in Vail Village. The
boulevard would give direct access to centralized parking facilities adding
to the efficiency of peak parking periods, resulting in reduced traffic
Grand Boulevard to be Built:
Elements of the plan are being included in planning for the redevelopment of
Crossroads (Solaris), the Lionshead Parking Structure, West Lionshead, West
Vail commercial center and modifications to the Ford Park. The boulevard
would continue Vail’s tradition of being free of traffic signals. Traffic
flows and access to destinations would be controlled through a system of
real time electronic traffic notification signs. The boulevard is to be
built in phases and funded through revenues generated by redevelopment. The
first phase is to be built in conjunction with the Vail Plaza Hotel, now
under construction. Other phases will follow as new redevelopment projects
Eagle County Transportation
System Could Offset I70 Congestion: Chronic traffic congestion is
expected to continue on I70 for the next 20 years. It is hoped that proposed
improvements will prevent the problem from getting worse. There is
considerable discussion free the roadway for transcontinental traffic that
should be removed from the Interstate by providing mass transit service
between Denver and the mountain resorts. Controversy and debate surrounds
the type of mass transit technology, routing and, most importantly,
High-Speed Mass Transit could Changes Community Identity:
There is concern that some forms of high-speed
transit could alter community identity by transforming resorts into bedroom
suburbs of Denver. It is proposed that whatever form of transit is
accepted, it should keep pace with speed limits on the Interstate. The
result would leave in place a “time moat” between the resorts and the Denver
metropolitan region. Without incentives or disincentives critics say the
public view mass transit as for the “others” to use, not themselves and will
still use their automobile to travel to resorts. The debate over the Denver
commute grid locked because there are no viable financial options.
Rail Mass Transit in Eagle County:
There are those in Eagle County and its resort communities who are beginning
to perceive the need for an integrated transportation system that can
leapfrog over the chronic problem with the I-70 mountain corridor. It is
reported that the long-standing concept of creating a rail mass transit
between the Eagle County Airport and Vail may be the subject of a study
committee of public and private interests. Railed mass transit has potential
because the existing unused Union Pacific track, if an extension were built
to Vail, would connect the airport with all communities along I-70 and the
Eagle River in Eagle County. The system could be interconnected when a
similar rail system was completed from Denver along I70.
Use Advances in Bus Technology: In
order for railed mass transit to be considered, it is also important that
advances in the potential of bus technology be explored. Planning should
provide for an integrated bus and rail system to be simultaneously evolved
so that expected urbanization of the I70 corridor in Eagle County over the
next fifty years is served with mass transit systems which may readily
respond to advances in technology and service demands.
Eagle County Airport and Rail Mass Transit System:
In its 2005 Annual Report, the Association called for an integrated
multi-modal long-range transportation plan for the Eagle County, including
rail mass transit. It proposed that facilities and services at Eagle County
Airport should be upgraded to become an International Airport. Discussions
with the representatives of the public and private operators of the airport
facilities indicated that the Association’s suggestions were in-step with
their improvement plans. Managers are desirous of expanding direct service
to Canada, Mexico and South America as the next step in improving access for
international travelers. Construction to extend the runway by 1000 feet is
underway. A new radar system will be installed by April 2007. Both
improvements will greatly increase the capacity at the airport. The private
jet port already receives flights from international destinations, primarily
Mexico, and has U.S. customs service in its terminal. Aircraft parking
facilities have been increased by 70,000 sq. ft. this year in an effort to
alleviate congestion. It is reported that in 2007 a study committee will
take on the issue of rail mass transit between Vail and the Airport.
Social Equity Issues:
Affordable Housing Policy and Impact Fee Debate:
The Vail Town Council has a far-reaching set of affordable housing policy
recommendations under debate. They are considering, what some are calling a
heavy-handed impact fee to be imposed upon all forms of new building,
including minor residential additions. Property owners should not dismiss
the debate lightly, because the rates being discussed could result in
millions of dollars in impact fees being imposed on new construction. These
fees, if improperly applied, could have a dampening effect on the entire
local economy, particularly the important construction and real estate
Need to Balance Social Equity: The
debate is fundamentally about balancing social equity. The boom in real
estate prices is steadily creating an unbridgeable gulf in the cost of homes
and apartments for the local work force. Wages have not kept pace with
housing costs nor is it likely to improve any time soon, particularly for
unskilled workers. The supply of workers to operate and build the community
is increasingly being affected by the enforcement of Colorado’s expanded
immigration laws. There are those who see the trend of local government
assuming subsidized housing as a move on the part of some in private
business to unload their responsibilities onto the taxpayers.
Build Affordable Housing into all Developments:
Developers and part-time residents have yet to recognize the importance of
incorporating worker housing in their residences and developments. Most
commercial business owners consistently turn to the Town of Vail to provide
employee housing in the form of subsidized “deed restricted” housing
projects and the buy-back of housing units on the open market. The supply
of land to build subsidized housing is rapidly dwindling. Public funds to
build or acquire existing housing are marginal when compared with demand.
Town of Vail consultants, during the Vail 20/20 public meetings, predicted
that most of Vail’s work force would live in some form of public subsidized
housing within the next 20 years. Some predict an even shorter timeframe.
Shift in Composition of Local Electorate:
In recent local elections, the Town of Vail has taken a decided shift toward
representing the work force. Some see a big opportunity for the shift to
become more pronounced with five Council seats open in the November 2007
election. Renting and transient workers living in subsidized housing are
filling the political void as an aging population of property owning local
residents depart, while part-time property owners, focused on the pursuit of
leisure, fail to see the need to vote in Vail.
Long-lasting Effect on the Community:
The affordable housing policy debate will have a profound and lasting effect
upon social harmony, economic viability, political balance of power,
socio-economic class segregation, work force composition and job
availability for decades to come. Some are concerned the viability of Vail
as a destination resort community weighs in the balance.
debate is being couched in a baffling array of jargon-laden indexes such as
Commercial Linkage, and Inclusionary Housing. The jargon masked the more
fundamental debate of who pays, how big is the bill, and at what rate will
the money be spent, by whom, for whom and where. The indefinite duration of
the impact fee could generate a significant revenue stream. Like the Real
Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) fund, it could outlive the intended purpose.
Impact Fee based on Formula: By law,
the fee must be assessed according to a formula that calculates how many
jobs are generated by residential and commercial uses. If the apportionment
formula can be proven incorrect, a court can declare the impact fee
invalid. Other communities, like Aspen, have an aggressive affordable
housing program. Vail is on the leading edge of this form of affordable
housing impact fee.
Association Concerns: Before taking a
position on the proposition, the Association would take the following
concerns into consideration:
Is the apportionment formula
statistically quantified, proportionally balanced and fairly assessed upon
those uses that generate the demand?
Are the policies and impact fee
based upon a quantified amount of housing that is calculated upon new
development, projected in accord with the community’s master plans?
Is there an arms length
separation between political entities and an independently managed housing
What other revenue sources are
What other impact fees on new
development are being considered to provide revenues for other necessary
What other communities have a
reasoned and well-founded approach to imposition of impact fees for
affordable housing and other community infrastructure needs?
What is the ramification of
impact fees on the health of the community’s economy?
Reliability of Data in Question: To
date there has been no published sum that the affordable housing fee could
or is intended to generate. There is no sunset provision. The impact fee
cannot by legal standards be used to make up for the current shortfall in
affordable housing. It can only be assessed upon jobs being created by new
development. There is a debate over the reliability of job projections in
Vail as the Town’s consultant-generated data is gathered from generalized
regional, state, and national abstracts.
amount of money collected from the impact fee could potentially put the Town
of Vail in the banking business, which makes some in the private sector
nervous. The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) also can create
peculiar complications and prohibitions for local government.
Private Development Fund Necessary:
Some believe there is a need for a private development fund, overseen by
independent and qualified financial professionals, who would parcel out
money according to standards and plans adopted by the Town. The concern is
that elected officials are too prone to be led astray because of political
pressure from special interests. The tendency in the private sector is to
spend money when there is a need, not just because they have it in the
bank. The same cannot always be said of government.
community of Lech, Austria has a similar approach to balancing the social
equity scales. Over time the local government through its real estate
buy-back program has successfully transferred a large measure of the
property owned by nonresidents to the local community.
Dispersed Housing Better than Housing Projects:
The Association has called for a dispersed affordable housing plan to create
these opportunities for the entire community. The Town of Vail currently
allows employee-housing units in all zone districts, but have ineffectual
enforcement powers. As a consequence affordable housing is not being
adequately dispersed throughout the community. The Association thinks
affordable housing policies should provide a balanced program for all ages
and stages of life, which support and sustain the Vail lifestyle, economy
Part-time Residential Property Owners Sustain the Local Economy as much as
Commercial Owners: Commercial property and business owners are
gaining ground in pushing a greater share of their affordable housing burden
off onto residential property owners and developers. Their argument is that
commercial interests pay more sales tax than do residential owners. Sales
taxes are the primary funding source for the Town of Vail and its affordable
housing program. Revenues from property taxes are not a factor in the
debate because of Vail’s low property tax rates.
Commercial Owners Claims
Incorrect: Commercial property owners are attempting to claim that it is
their sales tax receipts that generate the funds for the affordable housing
program. They leave the impression that their sales tax revenues come
principally from the destination guest. Therefore, they should pay
substantially less in affordable housing impact fees because they better
serve the destination guest market. They infer that the destination guest
is the most lucrative and biggest contributor to the local economy.
Part-Time Resident Support 43% of Vail Economy: What then is the
logic that residential owners, full or part-time, bear a far larger
percentage of the burden? Importantly, commercial owners fail to note that
according to a study by the local council of governments (NWCOG), the
expenditure of part-time residents accounts for 43% of the local economy.
They also overlook the substantial list of subsidies allocated to commercial
owners by the Town of Vail.
If the debate was being fairly
and openly conducted, part-time residential owners could claim that nearly
half of the sales tax revenues generated by commercial interest come from
themselves, not destination visitors or tourists. A simple pie chart of the
impact fee apportionment, proposed by commercial interests, would illustrate
that residential owners would pay three quarters of the tab, while
commercial owners walk away paying a quarter of the bill, as well as
pocketing a proportionally larger amount of other public subsidies.
Fairness In Apportionment and Unintended Consequences:
Fairness in apportionment is as much an issue as the debate over the amount
of housing needed, the rate of supply, and the segments of the work force
that is to be served by affordable housing. The greater the total amount of
affordable housing provided, the higher the impact fee assessment. Equally
important, significant increases in labor cost cause inflated building costs
which in turn reduce the sustainability of the community’s economic growth.
The problem would be the greatest when revenues from the impact fee were
used to stimulate a high rate of construction in the supply of affordable
housing during growth booms.
Should higher impact fees be
put on residential properties there could be unforeseen consequences, such
as a dampening effect on new residential construction. If this occurs, it
would adversely affect the large number of small independent contractors who
depend upon growth in the new home market backed up by a steady supply of
remodels and residential additions.
More Public Debate
Necessary: The importance of the issue mandates that special public
participation sessions should be held. The
way the current debate is structured the public has no say as the
legislation is being drafted. The Council should have some idea of public
acceptance before they put take-it-or-leave-it legislation on the table for
adoption. This may well become an issue that the Vail electorate should
Timber Ridge Affordable Housing Redevelopment:
The Association’s request to break away from large
scale segregated housing projects for local employees has been somewhat set
aside by Town officials. Developers, who were chosen to negotiate a
redevelopment of the Timber Ridge site, proposed a project with both
affordable and free market residential housing. In order to meet the Town’s
program of affordable housing, the developer proposed a development that was
four times the size of the Middle Creek Affordable Housing Project located
near the Main Vail Interchange. The plan was rejected. Town authorities are
in negotiations with other development interests to take on a more modest
project. The financial imbalance in the operation of the existing project
has been corrected, now that the extensive mold infestation has been
Vail Redevelopment Projects
and Master Planning Issues:
Association Objects to Special Development Districts (SDD):
The Town of Vail continues its abuse of zoning and
master planning powers. This is exemplified in allowing excesses in zoning
density, height, setbacks and other standards beyond the maximum allowances,
in exchange for fees to provide public benefits such as streetscape, public
art, and affordable housing. The Association continues to object to such
practices as grants of special privilege, abuse of master planning and
zoning responsibilities. The SDD discriminates against property owners who
conform to zoning standards. Special Development Districts cause the
confiscation of adjacent property owners’ rights because without allowed
zoning excesses; views, open space and privacy would otherwise be
protected. The SDD is a political anomaly in standard community zoning and
master planning practices. Its use continues to harm property owners and
the integrity of the community’s land use control system.
Willow Lodge Special Development District:
The developer was responsive to concerns of Association and adjacent
property owners with respect to set back encroachments. The project,
despite its excesses, had support from the surrounding neighborhood as the
developer initiated a positive working relationship with the neighborhood.
A review, requested by the Association, showed that the proposed building
was similar with respect to density, height, setbacks and other zoning
standards in other buildings in the neighborhood. The Town Council rejected
a request to transfer to Vail Road the developer’s proposed streetscape
improvement for Willow Road. The Association sought the change because of a
higher threat to pedestrians on Vail Road than on Willow Road. The argument
for increased pedestrian safety brought the matter to the attention of Town
authorities and will most likely result in a Vail Road sidewalk from the
Chapel Bridge to the entrance of Vail Front Door. The developer made a
significant contribution to the public art, affordable housing and
streetscape improvement programs.
Crossroads (Solaris) Special
Development District: The Association was successful in influencing
community leaders to consider Crossroads as the site in Vail Village for a
public ice skating rink during negotiation for the Parker Green/Founders
Garage. The ice skating rink is the centerpiece of a package of other
public improvements the Association succeeded in encouraging the Town
Council and the developer to provide for Vail Village. Other improvements
Phase one of the conversions of
the South Frontage Road to a landscaped Grand Boulevard.
Partial funding for traffic
turnaround at the intersection of South Frontage Road and Crossroads
Chute, with a snowmelt system, designed to enhance the safety of merging
traffic and provide for the reverse flow of Frontage Road traffic.
An enclosed loading and
delivery facility to be part of the dispersed truck terminal system.
A landscaped park to be built
on the west side of the development designed to provide a buffer with the
The Association was
unsuccessful in arguing that the height, bulk and mass of the building was
inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood and area. As a consequence,
the development appears that it will be inharmonious and adversely affects
adjacent property owners. The project lacked on-site affordable housing.
The design and landscaping of the public plaza is barren and insensitive to
the alpine environment. Public amenities were not proportional to the value
gained through zoning concessions.
Crossroads Election and Imposition of Standardized Development Impact Fees:
The result of a community election indicates that these factors were not a
concern to the electorate and, that in this instance, the timely
redevelopment of the property was the most important factor. Some political
observers believe that the election signals a wider acceptance of urban
scale development and infrastructure improvements.
Association continues its insistence that all developments are assessed
standardized development impact fees for a variety of public improvements,
including affordable housing, so that all property owners are treated
consistently. Impact fees are favored providing that they do not create
unintended consequences adverse to the environmental, social and economic
health of the community.
Preventing Arbitrariness and
Gratuitous Adversarialism: The purposes of impact fees are to reduce
arbitrariness and the potential for developer manipulation of the electorate
through divisive electioneering techniques that rely upon gratuitous
adversarialism. Gratuitous adversarialism is a political strategy that uses
base emotionalism to block rational public debate and understanding.
Crossroads (Solaris) Urban
Renewal District: It is necessary, resulting from an Association
inquiry, to condemn (eminent domain) covenant prohibitions that would allow
for the development of a bowling alley and movie theater. The Association
advocates that the same standard used for the Founder’s Garage urban renewal
covenant condemnation be applied to Crossroads. The standard limited the
condemnation of only those prohibitions for specific uses necessary for the
approved development to occur. All other provisions are to remain intact so
consistency is maintained for all property owners subject to the Vail
Village First Filing covenant.
Intergovernmental Tug-of-War over Urban Renewal Tax Increment Financing
(TIF): The formation of an urban
renewal district creates the option for the Town of Vail’s Urban Renewal
Authority (URA) to impose Tax Increment Financing (TIF) within the
Crossroads district. Tax Increment Financing permits the Town of Vail to
keep all revenues from increases in redevelopment property tax valuation
that would otherwise go to other governmental property taxing entities, e.g.
Eagle County government and school districts. Revenue from TIF for the
Crossroads redevelopment is estimated to be a sizable sum of money.
It is important to observe that
traffic circulation infrastructure for Lionshead will be built with TIF
revenues. There is no similar comprehensive TIF funding program for Vail
Village. The Town of Vail should be responsible for keeping both
commercial areas on an equal competitive footing.
Need Consistent Policy for
TIFF: The lack of a consistent public policy caused the Crossroads
developer to have greater out-of-pocket expenses to fund public benefits
than had TIF been available. The result is that the Crossroads building is
proportionally larger than it had it would have been, if TIF were
the Association inquired of the Town Administration, if TIF was to be
collected for Crossroads, it was told that a decision had been made and
communicated to the Eagle County tax authorities that TIF revenues would not
be collected. The matter, to the Association’s knowledge, never came before
the community in an open public session of the Vail Town Council.
Administrators believe that imposing TIF on Crossroads would aggravate
relations with Eagle County and other property taxing entities. They say it
would send a hostile signal to other governments that Vail intended to keep
all new revenues from redevelopment, thus raising the potential for
are several instances where TIF has not been imposed on redevelopment
projects. Therefore, a TIF for Crossroads cannot be seen as a shift in
TIFF is Necessary to Build Grand Boulevard:
The Association effectively argued to the Town Council that TIFF for
Crossroads was fully justifiable. TIF is necessary to fund the Crossroads
roundabout (or traffic turnaround) that was only partially funded by the
Crossroads developer as part of the Crossroads (Solaris) Special Development
District approval. The project will cost several hundreds of thousands of
dollars. These types of improvements to Vail’s frontage road system
directly benefit the considerable number of Eagle County residents that rely
upon them to access their place of employment and public recreation. The
Council agreed, directing that TIF revenues be applied to the project.
Association notes that there is a need for a consistent public policy with
respect to TIF. The wisdom of one governmental entity forcing greater
density on another over TIF is questionable, nor should administrators
settle these matters out of public view.
Manor Vail Special Development District:
Financing for the proposed redevelopment of Manor
Vail has been obtained according to project developers. A fire suppression
system is at present being installed in preparation for construction on the
Town of Vail approved plan in the spring of 2007. New units developed as
part of the major renovation of Manor Vail are being planned to be on the
market in February or March of 2007. A lawsuit filed by a Manor Vail owner
remains on appeal.
East Gore Creek Drive/Chalet
Road Neighborhood Plan: Representatives of neighborhood condominium
associations joined in discussions about their mutual interest in a
coordinated redevelopment. Each condominium property reported a diversity
of opinion as to the scope of redevelopment that was acceptable to their
owners. No one unifying concept has emerged from the discussion as being
favored. Funds will be available, as a condition of approval of the Manor
Vail SDD, to proceed with design of streetscape improvements for the
Vail Front Door Project Under Construction:
The $160 million, 240,000 square feet Vail Front
Door project in Vail Village is well underway at the base of the ski
mountain. All facilities with the exception of 13 town homes will be ready
for use by November 2007. August 2008 is the scheduled completion date for
the town homes. The project includes an underground parking structure,
loading & delivery terminal, skier services building and the private Vail
Mountain clubhouse. A membership in Vail Mountain Club with valet parking
is $250,000, or without valet parking $100,000.
Vail Front Door Developer Improvement Agreement Negotiated:
The Association negotiated for several years on issues regarding open space
preservation, noise pollution, commercial activities, night lighting of the
facilities and surrounding area, conduct of special events, truck
loading/delivery and traffic management. Members of the Board became
actively engaged in behind-the-scenes negotiations with VRI management to
ensure that neighborhood concerns were addressed. As a result of their
efforts, the Town of Vail and Vail Resorts included an advisory committee in
the Developer Improvement Agreement (DIA), which affects how property owners
can participate. The Association, in the 1990’s was able to have a similar
agreement put in place for the Golden Peak neighborhood. The purpose of the
Vail Front Door Advisory Committee is to advise on issues that affect
operations and management of the loading/delivery facility, vehicular
transportation and circulation. Each of these functions bears directly on
the issues of concern to the Association. The entire project is still the
subject of litigation from an adjacent property owner.
Garage Neighborhood Improvements Nearing Completion: Completion of
streetscape improvements to the Mill Creek Court Building completed the
Association’s fifteen-year effort to upgrade the P-3&J site and the
surrounding streetscape. The effort began with the neighborhood’s intention
to ensure that covenant protections were
enforced so that an obtrusive building was not built and to avoid the site
from becoming a loading and delivery lot. Neighborhood property owners also
sought to have truck parking removed from surrounding streets. After years
of study and negotiation the dirt parking lot is now a landscaped
underground parking structure, with a park, heated circulation areas and
complementing streetscape improvements. On-street truck parking has been
reduced and will be mainly relocated to Vail Front Door underground loading
and delivery terminal when it is completed in 2007.
Dispersed Loading and
Delivery Truck Terminal System Underway: The Vail Front Door truck
loading & delivery terminal is part of a system of dispersed loading &
delivery truck terminals advocated by the Association. Several dispersed
terminals are under construction or planned as part of redevelopment
projects being built throughout Vail Village and Lionshead. Other terminals
under construction are the Vail Plaza Hotel and One Willow Bridge Road. An
organizational structure, initiated by the Association, has been formed
whereby Town officials, residential and commercial property owners have a
forum to mediate traffic management issues.
West Meadow Drive Neighborhood:
Vail Valley Medical Center and Neighborhood Interests:
Master planning for the long-term expansion of the
Vail Medical Center is underway. The intent of the planning effort is to
identify strategic decisions the Medical Center will need to make in the
coming years to provide for the expansion of its operational needs and
physical campus. Strategic decisions include the Medical Center interest in
working with adjacent property owners on projects that may be of mutual
benefit. At the present, particular interest is being given to the Medical
Center’s relationship to Dobson Arena and the proposed redevelopment of the
Lionshead Parking Structure. A critical part of the planning is the traffic
circulation on the South Frontage Road, which will become the main entrance
to the Medical Center site. Most of the Center’s vehicular traffic will be
removed from West Meadow Drive in compliance with long-standing Town of Vail
master plans and prior zoning approvals.
an opportune time to study in detail the redesign of the South Frontage Road
between the Mail Vail Roundabout and the Lionshead Parking Structure.
Traffic engineers have recommended lowering the South Frontage Road to give
safer access to adjacent properties. A new roundabout and potential
reconfiguration of the Frontage Road alignment is critical to serve the
Medical Center, the Evergreen and Four Seasons Hotels, Vail International,
and Town of Vail complex. This section of roadway is critical to the
creation of the Association proposal for a Grand Boulevard that will serve
the expansion of the community traffic needs for the next several decades.
location of emergency services including ambulance and helicopter access is
an important issue. The Association has suggested the current helipad site
on the west end of the Municipal Building complex could be expanded creating
an opportunity for a sky bridge or tunnel between the Medical Center and a
new emergency services and an office building with a helipad.
Association continues to assist both the Medical Center and its membership
in the surrounding neighborhood to strive for constructive and a farsighted
resolution of issues of concern. In meeting with representatives of the
Medical Center, the Association has invited their participation in a
long-range community visioning effort. The Medical Center is an essential
institution and an important element in the planning for the community’s
emerging civic center.
Evergreen Hotel Rezoning: It is
reported that the developers of the Four Season project have acquired the
Evergreen Hotel. The property was re-zoned and included in the Lionshead
mixed-use zoned district. The zone district allows for considerably more
density on the site than currently exists. The inclusion in the Lionshead
zone district also opens the site to the Lionshead Urban Renewal Authority
and the potential to use Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to fund the
above-mentioned improvements to the South Frontage.
Four Seasons Special Development District:
Adjacent property owners are concerned with the
implication of pumping groundwater from the site. All parties are working
with their respective soil engineers to resolve outstanding issues. The
Association has given assistance to its members with respect to the matter.
Minor site work is underway.
Future of Vail Village Fire Station:
The Association conducted discussion with the Town of Vail and the Medical
Center regarding the merits of relocating the Vail Village Fire Station to a
new emergency service building to be located on the West end of the
Municipal Building Site. The discussion did not arrive at any conclusions.
Redevelopment: A renovation of the Landmark Tower and Townhouse project
is under consideration. Construction of additional floors is proposed above
the existing townhouse units. A new lobby building, parking structure
addition and an exterior facelift of the commercial storefronts on the
Lionshead Mall is included in the plan. The Association has requested that
detailed consideration be given to the impact of the proposed project of
adjacent properties with respect to pedestrian circulation, parking, loading
& delivery and the transformation of the complex architectural character.
This must be in compliance with the Lionshead master plan and design
guidelines. There is concern that the quality of the exterior design and
treatments complement the distinctive Arrabelle project, now under
Lions Square North
Condominiums Redevelopment and Conflict: Two new residential towers are
part of a makeover of the residential condominium project. The
architectural design is consistent with the alpine European style now
becoming the dominant theme in Lionshead. The Association suggested the
covering of an exposed parking lot with a landscape roof as a compromise to
help mitigate the view blockage and setback encroachment affecting adjacent
property owners in the Montaneros Condominium building. A compromise was
unable to be reached, as the developer was unable to concede that moving one
of the tower buildings further away from the Montaneros was desirable. The
Montaneros has filed suit in the Eagle County District Court in an effort to
modify the proposal.
Lionshead Parking Structure Redevelopment:
The Town of Vail for January 5, 2007 as the cutoff
date of plan revisions by the two firms competing to redevelop the Lionshead
Parking Structure. The two firms have been conducting public comment
sessions for the last several weeks. They now have the opportunity to
revise their proposals in response to the public comment. In general each
development group has included public parking, mass transit terminal, spa,
conference, retail commercial, affordable housing, hotel and residential
elements in what is estimated to be a $600 million redevelopment project.
The Association actively participated in several of the public comment
sessions. It delivered its comments to the Vail Town Council in an open
public meeting, so that neither developer nor the public would perceive the
Association interests as being biased or preferential. Comment of
particular concern were made with regard to improving traffic efficiency on
the South Frontage Road (Grand Boulevard) by the installation of two
roundabouts to serve the high levels of traffic accessing the two main
vehicular portals proposed in both plans. The Associations comments
addressed the following issues:
Efficiency of parking, roadways
and mass transit facilities.
Compatibility with adjacent
properties and neighborhood.
Economic benefit of convention
facilities to the business community.
Affordable Housing Commitment
on-site and off.
Utilization of Tax Increment
Financing and availability of funds for public priorities.
Scope and value of public
facilities, amenities and benefits.
Urban and architectural design
Aquatic Therapy Wellness Center Suggested for Lionshead Parking Structure
and Civic Center Redevelopment: The
Association prepared and circulated a report to the competing developer and
other interested parties, which advocated that spa facilities proposed for
the project be available to the general public as a recreational and
wellness amenity. Developers were proposing that their spa facility would
be accessible only to members. The report suggested that a wellness center
with an emphasis on aquatic therapy would be a significant attraction and
public amenity, which is compatible with the “civic center” purpose of the
proposed project and could be complementary with therapeutic facilities at
the nearby Vail Medical Center. An aquatic wellness center in Solden,
Austria was identified as a concept for a potential community health amenity
in Vail on the Association’s tour of European mountain resorts.
See VVHA Report.
Redevelopment: Town officials have indicated that which ever
redevelopment is selected the new public parking structure for 1,100+
vehicles must be completed between the end and beginning of the ski season.
Additionally, a new public parking structure proposed as part of the West
Lionhsead Master Plan must be under construction and nearing completion
before construction begins on the Lionshead parking structure redevelopment.
Timberline Roost Lodge Redevelopment:
In September, the developer dropped his litigation against the opposition
leadership in the July Crossroads election. The developer alleged, during
the election, that Crossroad opponents had misrepresented the size of the
Roost Lodge redevelopment project. The local newspaper used the allegation
to gratuitously demean the truthfulness of the Crossroad opponents, several
of whom were former elected officials and founders of the community.
Because of criticism from some neighborhood property owners, the developer
during the same general time, as part of the Town of Vail development review
proceeding, reconfigured the scope of his proposed redevelopment.
Master Planning Projects:
West Lionshead: The
Town of Vail Planning and Environmental Commission (PEC) have approved a new
master plan for the West Lionshead Area. The Town Council will further
review the plan. The plan featured a new 400-500 public parking structure
and transportation terminal. The development program for the plan
anticipated mixed residential and commercial building on a scale with the
larger projects under construction in Lionshead. The development surrounds
a new up-mountain ski lift. The area will not be served by a ski run. The
project proposes to reroute the South Frontage Road, creating a more
cohesive village center and allowing the site to be served by a traffic
efficient roundabout. Importantly, at the Association’s request the PEC
agreed that the planning area is to include the site for the Simba Run I-70
underpass, which could allow TIF funds to be used to construct the
underpass. These planned infrastructure
improvements implement an important segment of the Association’s
Grand Boulevard concept for the South Frontage Road. The Association
participated in the year and a half long public process leading to the
formulation of the plan.
of the goals of the Association is to better integrate Cascade Village and
the Glen Lyon subdivision with Vail Village and Lionshead through improved
transportation and open space connections. The Association supports efforts
to change covenants through property owner amendment to allow the Tract K
open space to be used as a route for snow-cat access. The Tract K access
route would remove snow-cat access from all residential neighborhoods, in
particular West Forest Road, which is now used for access.
Vail Town Council is in negotiations with Vail Resorts regarding the
company’s fulfillment of its affordable housing requirement for their
development projects, including their West Lionshead Ritz Carlton luxury
residences. The Council is intent on giving final approval only after Vail
Resorts makes a firm commitment on an affordable housing program that meets
the Town’s parameters. One of the parameters may be VRI’s participation in
the redevelopment of the Timber Ridge Affordable Housing project.
West Vail Community Town
Center Plan: The Association continued its participation in the
yearlong effort to create an incentive plan for the redevelopment of the
West Vail commercial shopping center. The
Town of Vail master-planning effort produced a plan for a
multi-phased mixed residential and commercial development. The key elements
of the plan provide for the area to have on-street vehicular parking, as
well as being served by a centralized parking structure and enclosed loading
& delivery terminals. A priority of the plan is to create a defined
separation between the mixed residential/commercial development and adjacent
residential neighborhoods. The key to the separation is to ensure that
roadway links do not create incentives for commercial traffic to circulate
through residential neighborhoods.
The Association advocates the
North Frontage Road’s transformation into the community’s Grand Boulevard,
to significantly reduce vehicular travel time between the West Vail
community town center and the resort town centers of Vail Village and
Lionshead. The Grand Boulevard would allow for the creation of express
rapid transit service between the community and resort town center. The
result would overcome the division and isolation that I70
bringing these important centers of the community into a socially cohesive
and mutually supportive economic relationship.
Ford Park Master Plan Back On The Table:
The Town of Vail will initiate a public planning
process to determine the scope of a parking structure proposed to be built
on Ford Park. The planning process will also bring up the configuration and
expansion of current and future uses in the park where the parking structure
or structures are proposed to be located.
Vail Recreation District Plan (VRD) In Process:
In recent years the Town of Vail and the VRD have
been on an adversarial footing over budgetary differences. Historically,
the Town of Vail owns recreational facilities and leases the operations to
the recreation district. The dispute, involves the Town’s imposition on the
VRD of $2 million leasehold improvements for the Dobson Arena and the VRD’s
refusal to assume operating costs for the now defunct Town owned Ice Bubble
rink on the Vail Golf Course.
Conflict and Joint Master Planning: The
VRD and the Town have been criticized in recent years for providing
facilities and programs for narrow interest groups with modest numbers of
beneficiaries. The groups are mostly local residents or non-taxpaying down
valley residents who live outside of the district boundaries. A joint
master planning effort was taken up in an effort to get both groups back
into a more harmonious relationship. To guide the plan, consultants used a
mail back survey and other public participation techniques.
Association See Need for Balance: The
Association found that the surveying techniques appeared to bias the
recommendation of the plan towards the desire of local residents. It noted
that the Town of Vail serves a narrow constituency of local Vail voters,
while the VRD by statute serves all Vail property owners who reside in the
State of Colorado. Other than general policy statements, the specifics of
the plan have yet to be forthcoming. The Association advocates that
facilities and services provided by the VRD should reflect the financial
contribution of its taxpayers and the users that sustain the district. In
the prioritization of whatever new facilities and programs included in the
plan they should serve the largest mix of user groups and economic
Activist Seniors Making Progress: As a
result of the persistent efforts by an activist Board member, Gretta Parks,
the Association has motivated the VRD to initiate programs for seniors.
Once the province of young gymnasts, the VRD is opening its gymnastic
center, to seniors for organized exercise programs. The Association’s
ongoing efforts to work with the VRD and Town of Vail is also focused on
encouraging more handicapped parking spaces and electric cart taxi service
for the disabled throughout Vail Village and Lionshead.
Economic Development Council Formed Wants Property Tax Increase:
The Vail Town Council established the Economic Development Council. The
appointment of members and operations of the development council is under
the jurisdiction of the Town Manager. To date, the underlying theme of the
group’s recommendations is to continue to develop a year round economy and
reduce the Town of Vail’s dependence on sales tax as its primary revenue
source by increasing property taxes. Both are recurrent themes for the Town
of Vail and are precursors to a political effort to increase property taxes
by a significant amount. Some business leaders want a larger share of sale
tax receipts to fund their decades-long quest to turn Vail into a year round
resort. They can obtain an increased share by significantly increasing
property taxes, thus freeing sales tax receipt for their own use. In recent
years, with far more resources than in the past to promote the non-winter
season, this faction of business leaders has done little to change the
economic realities of the community’s off-season inclement weather cycles.
Before they assume more debt, voters may want to first see if the proposed
Lionshead conference attracts off-season crowds.
Major Property Tax Increases in the Works:
The Town is circulating figures that demonstrate its operational and capital
expenses will outstrip sales tax revenues in two years. There has been no
clear explanation as to why the current building boom results and its
projected revenue streams will not yield sufficient revenues to fund
government operations. This was the underlying premise the Town of Vail
used to justify loosening zoning restrictions that set off the decade long
boom in redevelopment.
TIFF Balances Property Tax Scale:
Increases in property tax revenues from Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
derived from new redevelopment projects have yet to be fully understood.
TIF revenues will account for millions of dollars in additional property tax
revenues over the next twenty-five years. Town administrators are quick to
recite that property taxes only account for 11% of Town of Vail revenues.
If the full dimension TIF generate revenues were credited to the property
tax revenue stream, the comparison of sale taxes to property taxes would be
far more in balance.
Bricks and Mortar Not Services:
Property tax increases are also in the works for other governmental
jurisdictions that derive revenues from Vail. The Town of Vail has a
limited track record in gaining property tax increases. Proposals have
either been poorly conceived or politically inspired. Local voters have
historically resisted large increases in property tax because they result in
cost of living increases for both renters and local homeowners. Some
part-times residents believe a modest increase in property taxes is
warranted. They cite Vail’s low property tax rates when compared to their
permanent residences elsewhere. Most however, want the tax for brick and
mortar projects that are well thought out rather than for open-ended
services. Care should be taken to ensure that the collective increases in
all categories of property taxes (municipal, county, schools and special
districts) do not have the effect of driving out local residence.
Officials See Political Opening for Property Tax Increase:
Most bricks and mortar proposition have failed because they go well beyond
the ability of local residents to justify the benefit they are to receive.
Recent perceived shifts in the voter base has created optimism by some
community interests that large numbers of transient workers in the community
can easily be swayed by “feel good” projects to raise property taxes and
outvote resistive local property owners. Non-resident property owners have
no say in Town of Vail property tax elections.
Membership and Communications:
The efforts of our Membership Director have
substantially increased our individual membership over the past year. In
2007, we will continue our effort, as well as seek condominium owners to
become individual members. We encourage existing Association members to
suggest others for membership who would be interested in mission and
Consideration is being given to further expanding and upgrading the
Association communication system and web site. A mid-year newsletter has
been added to the distribution of topical status report that the Association
provides its membership on a continuous basis. The Association welcomes the
comments and concerns of its members and constituencies. It has established
a blog function on its website to encourage open communications among its
members and community interests.