New Vail Council needed
Ryan Summerlin June 7, 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.
The controversy is not abating over redevelopment of significant portions of the Vail Golf Course clubhouse and the existing 18th green to create a commercial event center.
Opponents have mounted an innovative online petition drive, which gives the opportunity for the Vail public, including nonresident property owners, to express their views. Those opposed to the redevelopment proposal include golfers, property owners and individuals concerned with the dismissive attitude of the Vail Town Council and Vail Recreation District toward people expressing concerns as the project has progressed through the town’s own public review and approval process.
To participate online: The Vail Homeowners Association urges residential property owners to express their views by participating in the petition survey online, which can be accessed at the following web address http://chn.ge/18xMAyt. Those desiring to make a contribution, financial or otherwise, to further this effort should contact the petition’s circulator via the link provided on the online petition.
‘Opposition always inflames the enthusiast, never converts him.’
The petition drive is a foretaste of an evolving political mood to reshape the community perspective of the Town Council and Recreation District Board in elections upcoming this fall and next spring, when the seats of a majority of current members are open to replacement.
There appears to be mounting awareness of a need to attract, support and fund candidates who demonstrate greater concern for the “broader community,” which includes nonresident property owners, rather than those who are primarily tied to local special interests.
Colorado voters who own Vail property can vote in the Vail Recreation Distriction election next May. Nonresident property owners — through the power of their checkbooks, personal contacts and social media — can influence the outcome of the election, now made easier through the innovations of Internet participation.
Town and Recreation District solution to concerns are not adequate. Homeowners near the golf clubhouse and 18th green have launched a lawsuit protesting that a commercial event center is incompatible with the character of their surrounding residential neighborhood and that its commercial uses will violate protective covenants on the land.
Their opposition continues because the Town Council and the Vail Recreation District Board of Directors have ignored protective covenants that prohibit commercial uses and they have not provided the neighborhood with adequate and enforceable protections against traffic, congestion, noise and environmental impats through the course of the town’s public review and approval process. Beyond that, neither entity has convinced many golfers that the relocation of the 18th green is necessary or that they should share their clubhouse with competing commercial activities.
There is growing concern among many that the only way to effectively constrain local government from forcing commercializing uses into established neighborhoods is through the ballot box. These advocates note that unless residents, particularly those in West Vail, take a stand now against what is happening, other neighborhoods will be subjected to the same actions. Many West Vail neighborhoods are even more vulnerable than other residential areas to commercialization because of their age and other factors.
If precedents are set in the golf course neighborhood, with all of the under-zoned commercial and residential development in West Vail where density could potentially be increased and with the town’s drive to add more money into its coffers, West Vail’s neighborhoods are likely targets for economic exploitation.
According to these advocates, this vulnerability, coupled with the disturbing trend of disregarding property owners’ concerns by the current council, makes it imperative to begin the search for new leadership. Vail needs a council that shares the same values and aspirations of the broader community they serve — a council that will strive to uphold the law, protect the existing covenants, preserve Vail community character and listen to all of its inhabitants.