Music facility: Good plan, wrong location? | VailDaily.com

Music facility: Good plan, wrong location?

EAGLE — Peter and Cathy Halstead believe they’ve found the right place for a small facility dedicated to the love of classical music. Their neighbors aren’t so sure.

The Halsteads have proposed a classical music education and small performance facility called Tippet Rise. The facility would be on a portion of their ranch about 6 miles up Lake Creek Road. Several neighbors turned out Wednesday at a meeting of the Eagle County Planning Commission to question the facility’s impact on the area.

After a few hours of presentations and testimony, the commission voted to continue the hearing until March 18 at 3 p.m. Commission members who are able to attend will visit the site earlier that afternoon. Notice of the meeting will be posted on the county’s website.

The Halsteads have proposed to use a portion of a ranch they own for a 10,000 square foot music library and performance studio and a 1,500-square-foot home that would be for artists in residence.

According to the Halsteads’ presentation, the plan also includes a small, outdoor performance bandshell.

Peter Halstead said performances would be limited to “chamber music,” with small groups playing pianos and stringed instruments. No amplification would be used.

“Our whole philosophy is that sound used to be very small,” he said. “We don’t have the really small halls the great composers used.”

The idea, Cathy Halstead said, is to expose local school children to classical music, exposure they’d be unlikely to get elsewhere.

The idea extends to the wider world. Peter Halstead said performances would be recorded and made available on the Internet.

Audiences would be limited to local school kids and a few others, and the Halsteads said audiences would never exceed 75 people, and there would be no more than one event per day. In addition, the facility would use shuttle buses to bring most people to the site.

During his presentation, county planner Sean Hanagan said the proposal largely meets county codes. According to the data provided by the Halsteads and planner Doug Pratt, the facility would generate little vehicle traffic — not enough to trigger a traffic-measurement study. The well on the property should also be sufficient to provide water for the facility.

The project has the support of the Eagle County School District, the Vail Valley Foundation and the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, among others.

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS

Neighbors, though, remain concerned about potential problems, including noise and traffic.

And, while Hanagan’s presentation included a list of local organizations providing notice of the proposal, many neighbors said they were unaware of the plan until very recently.

Jean Tally, whose home is the closest to the proposed facility, said she was unaware of the Halsteads’ proposal until just last week.

A chart presented at the hearing showed the Tallys’ home about a quarter-mile from the proposed facility. Tally said her home is actually closer than that.

“We’ll have unwanted noise and traffic,” Tally said.

Neighbor Steve McConahey echoed the remarks of several neighbors, who lauded the Halsteads’ plans for the facility, but questioned the location.

“Let’s not confuse good citizenship and a good idea with the idea of where it should be,” McConahey said.

The Halsteads have incorporated suggestions from neighbors who had written to the county about the proposal, as well as suggestions from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

But both neighbors and commission members said they need more time to study how those changes will affect the overall project.

And commission member Peter Runyon said he wants any recommendation from the commission to the Eagle County Commissioners to have very specific requirements for the facility. That would include “yes for oboes, no for trumpets, and the only percussion instruments would be pianos,” Runyon said.

Talking about neighbors’ concerns about how a special use permit for the property would be enforced, Runyon, a former county commissioner, said the permit would be enforced through the county’s code enforcement officers, based on complaints from neighbors.

“We’ll go out there and (shut down) the place,” Runyon said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.