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  -  Gail Ellis  -  Ron Langley

Eugene Mercy  -  Bill Morton  -  Trygve Myhren  -  Gretta Parks  -  Emeritus: Bob Galvin

 

Vail Village Homeowners 2006 Annual Report

 

President’s Message:

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 Lamont.

 

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 community.

 

Thank you for helping us with our goals.  We welcome your comments and suggestions.

 

Best regards,

Alan Kosloff

 

The following is an in-depth report of the Association’s activities for 2006 and its concerns for the coming year and beyond.

 

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 1960’s. 

 

The 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. 

 

The 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 community.  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 renovation effort. 

 

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 and environs.

 

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.

 

The 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. 

 

The 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 beneficial relationship. 

 

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 routes. See Town of Vail Emergency Wildfire Evacuation Plan.

 

Procedures: 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 and Wildfire Hazard Map.

 

Threats: 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. 

 

Actions: 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. 

 

Forest Restoration:  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 as fuel.  

 

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 environment.

 

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:

Introduction:  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.  See 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.  See: 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 improvement plan. 

 

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

 

Competitive Privatization: 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 condominium complex. 

 

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 congestion. 

 

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 are built.

 

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, funding. 

 

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 industry.  

 

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. 

 

The 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 development fund? 

  • What other revenue sources are available?

  • What other impact fees on new development are being considered to provide revenues for other necessary infrastructure improvements?

  • 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. 

 

The 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.

 

The 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 and community.

 

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 decide.  

 

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 removed. 

 

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.

 

Vail Village:

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 include:

 

  • 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 adjacent property.   

 

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.

 

The 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 available. 

 

When 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 intergovernmental litigation. 

 

There are several instances where TIF has not been imposed on redevelopment projects.  Therefore, a TIF for Crossroads cannot be seen as a shift in public policy. 

 

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. 

 

The 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 neighborhood.

 

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.  

 

Parker Green/Founder’s 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. 

 

It is 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. 

 

The 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.

 

The 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.

 

Lionshead Redevelopments:

Landmark Condominiums 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 construction.       

 

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 issues.

 

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.

 

Prerequisite for 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.

 

West Vail:

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.

 

One 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.

 

The 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 creates by 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.  See VVHA Status Report.

 

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 interests.  

 

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 activities.

 

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.