Vail Valley Voices: Vail traffic issues
Ryan Summerlin January 4, 2013
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.
Recently the Vail Homeowners Association worked to help neighbors affected by the proposed medical office building-new town hall on the municipal building site.
Officials responsible for the planning of the project came to understand the reasoning behind the surrounding residential neighborhood’s public safety concerns. They responded positively by doing necessary studies.
These studies determined that the proposed Vail Valley Medical Center helipad was more appropriately located on the roof of the planned medical office building and, as the Federal Aviation Agency recommends, not within a residential neighborhood.
Secondarily, the medical center’s primary vehicular access to their main campus should be removed from Vail Road and West Meadow Drive to the South Frontage Road.
The projects have been abandoned, at least for the time being, due to economic reasons. But the Homeowners Association is urging the town to incorporate these studies into their master planning document to provide guidance for future like-minded proposals.
Golden Peak traffic, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail sub area master plan: A rezoning application leading to the proposed redevelopment of the 1970s Ski and Snowboard Club Vail building raised neighborhood concerns regarding persistent traffic congestion and related public safety issues.
In recognition of residential property owners concerns, the town and Vail Resorts, through the auspices of a neighborhood management committee, have put in place strategies and evaluation tools with the intent to better control traffic flow. Included are modifications of consumer drop-off and pickup functions, as well as improvements to better protect pedestrians at various locations throughout the affected neighborhoods.
Still to be resolved is the need for long-range master planning proposals that respond to the eventual redevelopment of the neighborhood that will necessitate upgrading the roadway and mass transit systems that serve it.
There is the potential to increase private on-site parking well beyond the capacity of the existing roadways, which is the larger issue raised by the redevelopment of the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail proposal.
Golf course clubhouse redevelopment: The town’s proposal for the redevelopment of the golf clubhouse, which it owns, is the most indicative of the influence that an adversarial subsidy could have upon an existing residential neighborhood.
The neighborhood fully embraces the need for a new golf clubhouse. However, confronting strong neighborhood opposition is a proposal to include in the clubhouse a commercial events center. The event center promises to encompass the adjacent existing 18th green space as a site for party or entertainment functions. The 18th green is to be located elsewhere on the golf course.
On-site public parking is insufficient to accommodate the proposed event center. To date, because of the residential and commercial mix of its resort town center, the municipal government has always found a middle ground in accommodating the needs of both classes of users. It has done so without granting others or itself special privileges from parking requirements.
Nearby neighbors have filed suit, claiming the town is violating protective covenants. Their suit alleges that the event center will adversely affect the peaceful enjoyment of their homes and that property values are being irreparably damaged.
The Vail Homeowners Association is urging all parties to seek a middle road that does not adversely affect neighborhood property owners.
Planning by the seat of our pants not good enough anymore: All of the foregoing projects fall within a long line of town-promoted projects over the last several decades that have been highly contentious. Most have sought short-term economic gain for commercial promoters.
The byproduct of short-term gain does not offset the doubt that property investors have about the security of their investments relative to the integrity of the town’s regulatory enforcement.
By and large, it is the town’s apparent inability to look far enough into the future that is stimulating conflict rather than enhancing opportunities for residential and commercial interests. The community needs to urge the town of Vail to plan for the future and set aside the short-term opportunistic tactics of modifying their planning and zoning project by project.