Controversial parcel in East Vail will see project approval effort in 2019 | VailDaily.com

Controversial parcel in East Vail will see project approval effort in 2019

Scott N. Miller
smiller@vaildaily
This 23-acre parcel just north of the Interstate 70 East Vail interchange will in 2019 see a proposal for workforce housing. Expect public hearings to begin in late February.
Special to the Daily

A possible timeline:

January: Triumph Development will submit a development application to town officials.

February: After being vetted by town planners, the proposal will have its first hearing before the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission. Expect at least two hearings.

April: The Vail Design Review Board will get its first look at the project.

July: The design board could give final approval to the plan.

Note: This timeline is approximate.

Source: Town of Vail

VAIL — A controversial parcel near the East Vail Interstate 70 exit is likely to generate more discussion when a development plan is submitted early in 2019.

Triumph Development has an agreement to buy the 23-acre parcel from Vail Resorts, which in 2017 put new zoning on the property. Triumph intends to build workforce housing on the site, and is nearly ready to submit a plan to town officials. Since the plan hasn’t yet been submitted, no details have been made public.

The new zoning will allow workforce housing on 5.4 acres of the parcel. The remainder of the parcel is zoned “Natural Area Preservation,” one of the town’s most restrictive forms of zoning. The former zoning would have allowed several single-family or duplex units throughout the steep site.

Vail Resorts asked for the 2017 rezoning after the company discovered that it had owned the parcel since the early 1960s. For decades, it was believed that the parcel — immediately north of the East Vail interchange — belonged to the Colorado Department of Transportation. That belief was reflected on official town zoning maps.

The rezoning parcel was controversial and drew heated opposition from several neighbors. Among the concerns is the future of a small herd of bighorn sheep that use the parcel for winter range.

Vail Town Council member Kim Langmaid said during the rezoning process that building on the site could doom the herd.

Michael O’Connor, of Triumph, said that company is working on a habitat mitigation plan. Working with consultant Rick Thompson, O’Connor said development on the site “could be a net positive” for wildlife habitat.

Opponents of the rezoning proposed moving potential workforce housing to a site just west of the existing Middle Creek apartments. A town-funded study earlier this year determined that the site — which is currently zoned Natural Area Preservation — could be used for workforce housing.

Still, both the West Middle Creek and East Vail sites are steep, and building will be difficult.

Opportunity for public input

With Triumph on the verge of submitting a plan for the East Vail site, Vail Community Development Department Director Matt Gennett on Tuesday afternoon led Town Council members through a potential timeline of the approval process.

That process — which will include advertised public hearings with the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission and, later, the Vail Design Review Board, could run from roughly February through July, depending on how many hearings are held. In theory, if the plan is ultimately approved by the planning and design boards, that could be the final step in the process. But the Town Council has the ability to review those boards’ decisions if it chooses.

Council members questioned how the public meetings regarding the plan will be advertised.

Gennett said his department will take extra steps to notify the public, including posting meeting schedules on the town’s website.

“There’s lots of opportunity for … public input,” council member Greg Moffet said, adding that the planning board “is very good about accepting public input.”

Council member Kevin Foley added that meetings of both the planning and design boards are now live-streamed by High Five Access Media.

Meetings are also cached on the community-access channel’s website.

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