Vail wins first round of golf course fight
August 20, 2013
VAIL — The legal fight over the future of the Vail Golf Club took a decisive step last week, with a judge ruling in favor of the town in litigation filed by golf course neighbors.
District Court Judge Frank Plaut ruled Aug. 16 that the town can proceed with a plan to change the 18th hole at the golf course. Town officials plan to re-locate the 18th green at the course, changing the hole from a par-five to a par-four. Plaut denied the course neighbors' request for a preliminary injunction to stop the work.
Those neighbors have also sued the town over a plan to build a new clubhouse at the course, claiming that current plans for the clubhouse violate a "covenant" — limitations put on golf course property use in the original sale contract. That suit continues to work its way through the legal system. Neighbors claim the clubhouse project as currently proposed would violate the contract's limits of the former Pulis Ranch property to open space and recreation.
Course neighbors cited language in the original sale contract as a basis for trying to stop work on the 18th hole project, but Plaut disagreed.
A press release from the town states that Plaut ruled the neighbors don't have "standing" under the language of the sale contract. Plaut's ruling also stated that even if the neighbors did have standing to file suit, they failed to present evidence that relocating the 18th hole would violate the contract's language.
While neighbors claim the 18th hole project is part of the broader plan for the new clubhouse project, Vail Town Council member Greg Moffet said the golf hole is a separate issue. A consultant presentation last year claimed the current alignment of the green and its proximity to the course driving range creates a safety problem.
"From a safety standpoint, we're in a situation where we have to fix (the hole)," Moffet said. "I've yet to hear any (project critics) offer to assume that liability."
But fellow council member Margaret Rogers, a practicing attorney, said Plaut's ruling about the neighbors' standing in the 18th hole case could affect the litigation to stop the clubhouse project.
The has issued requests for bids on the 18th hole project. Those bids are due Aug. 22, and Rogers said the council could award a contract as soon as Sept. 3.