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A new plan for Vail Mountain School

Veronica Whitney
Daily file photoAlan Danson and some of his neighbors used to be concerned Vail Mountain School was going seek rezoning for a 1.26-acre-lot it owns along Booth Falls Road to build a much larger campus. A new proposal appears to have satisfied their concerns, however.
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After neighbors expressed concerns at a meeting in February, school authorities asked the architects to consider a revised plan on the east end of the property.

“We were concerned that the school was going to ask the town of Vail for a rezoning of a 1.26-acre-lot it owns along Booth Falls Road (west side) and build a much larger campus,” said Alan Danson, who lives along Booth Falls Road and is secretary of The Booth Falls Neighborhood Committee. “We support the school on almost everything except building a whole new building in front of our homes.”

But the February meeting resulted in a revised plan that Tom Braun and Dominic Mauriello of Braun Associates Inc., land-use planners for the school, presented to neighbors earlier this month.



“What the school is proposing now is a win-win situation,” Danson said. “The new plan achieves the school’s objectives and has growing support among the neighbors. We’re very pleased with the process that the school initiated after we expressed our concerns.”

Neighbors were concerned the development would be on the west side of the school, Mauriello said, so Vail Mountain School decided to redevelop the area where the school is now and put the soccer field on the west lot, along Booth Falls Road. Vail Mountain School purchased that lot in may 2001. It extends along a good portion of the east side of Booth Falls Road and is contiguous with the west end of the school’s soccer field. It is zoned “agricultural and ppen space,” which allows development of only 5 percent development.



The key rezoning the property is its consistency with the town’s Land Use Plan. In this case, the plan would support an institution like a school, said Russell Forrest, Vail’s director of community development.

The school’s new master plan, presented Monday to the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission, however, will not require a change of zoning for the Booth Falls lot because the soccer field would be relocated to this area and a home for the school’s headmaster will be built there, instead of the main school buildings.

The buildings of the new campus will replace the current structures and the additional facilities – faculty housing and parking – will be built on a lot off Katsos Ranch Road the school is in the process of buying, Mauriello said.



“Neighbors in the east and west side of the school approve of the new plan,” Mauriello said. “We’re still working with individual neighbors on issues such as impact on views, setback and parking locations.”

Mauriello said he expects the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission to vote on the plans in late-June or July.

“The school plans to break ground in the spring of 2003,” he added.

“We don’t know yet how much it will cost because the plans are still preliminary.”

The new master plan, Mauriello said, is similar to the one Vail approved in March 2000.

“The new one is a larger project (75,000 square feet instead of the 56,000 square feet proposed in 2000),” Mauriello said. “We’ve improved common areas, storage and mechanical.”

“Still, Vail Mountain School’s proposal is on the low end of per-square-foot-per-student compared to several schools in the area, including Gypsum Middle School,” he said.

During construction, Mauriello said, there could be a need for temporary classrooms or a pre-manufactured building.

“The school plans to develop the new building in phases from east to west,” Mauriello said. “So, they’ll be able to move the children.”

The previous plan to move the school, currently located along Frontage Road in East Vail, to Booth Falls Road, would have had significant impact on the neighborhood, Danson said earlier,

“We would no longer have had any buffer zone between our homes and a much larger school.”

The soccer field to the west and the hill to the north provides a buffer from school buildings and activities from seriously impacting the neighborhood.

Master plan approved in 2000

– 55,400 square feet for 330 students

– A gymnasium.

– An auditorium.

– 115 parking spaces

– Eight faculty housing units.

– Under-sized soccer field.

New proposed master plan

– 75,900 square feet for 320 students.

– A gymnasium.

– An auditorium.

– 115 parking spaces

– Eight faculty housing units

– A regulation-size soccer field.

– A residence for the the future head of school.

–Source: Braun Associates Inc.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555 ext. 454 or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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