VAIL, Colorado - How many meetings does it take for Vail to approve a billion-dollar resort project? The answer, so far, is "more than 85."
At the end of the 85th meeting various town boards have held regarding the Ever Vail project, the Vail Town Council Tuesday gave initial approval to a handful of ordinances moving the plan along. Those ordinances deal with parking and zoning matters, among other things, that are essential for the project to gain final approval. Some day.
When Vail Resorts Development Co. first floated the idea of Ever Vail in 2005, it looked like someday might have happened by now. But when a formal application hit the town offices in 2007, the national economy had started to sour. Now, five years on, all Vail Resorts will say about a timeline to start work on Ever Vail is "when the time is right."
The ordinances given initial approval Tuesday - final approval is scheduled for Dec. 18 - reflect that "some day" timetable. Vail Resorts has until 2020 to relocate South Frontage Road on the north side of the project. Once that's been done, the ordinances passed Tuesday will take effect.
Even then, there will be many more public meetings to get the project to the shovel-in-the-ground stage.
"The applicant is not requesting site-specific approval of buildings here," Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said. "They'll be required to submit development applications, and they'll add to the 85 discussions we've had."
At this point, it wouldn't seem there would be much to add to Ever Vail's current status. But representatives of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District weren't as eager for passage.
Rick Sackbauer, chairman of the district's elected board of directors, told the council the district still had some serious worries about the project. Ever Vail's 12-acre site will literally be next door to the district's Vail offices. That site, on the far west end of Forest Road, also includes a wastewater treatment plant, and there are future plans to built a drinking water treatment plant.
District manager Linn Brooks told the council the district needs a few things from eventual Ever Vail approvals. The biggest are access and legal language to protect the district from lawsuits filed by condo buyers.
"Ever Vail wraps around our property," Brooks said later. "The Vail (wastewater) plant doesn't have a lot of odors compared to plants in other communities. But there's always the potential for odors."
After asking several times, over the past few years, including Tuesday, district officials got what they wanted. There's now a written record of what the district wants in the Ever Vail documents.
"Our concern is that Vail Resorts Development Company's timing is uncertain," Brooks said. "If (construction) is well into the future, we don't want people to forget about this."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.