Crossroads vote was carefully considered
As one of four of the Vail Town Council members who voted in favor of the Crossroads redevelopment, I think it is important to explain why I am confident in that decision. Our town staff, planning and environmental commission and council spent countless hours over the course of almost two years reading, reviewing, revising, and negotiating documents and agreements to help mold the development into something that will not only fit into Vail, but will also enhance our community and experiences. In the special development district process, it is the goal (and also the duty) of those reviewing a development to ensure that any deviations from zoning are outweighed by public benefits. After an extensive public process, an overwhelming majority of those whose job it was to review the development felt that this goal was attained (of the 14 appointed and elected officials, 10 were in favor, four opposed).It think it is unfair to claim that the developer was unwilling to negotiate. Their plans were continuously revised based upon specific requests and input from neighbors, town staff, PEC, and council. For example, between April 2005 and early 2006, many key changes were made to the proposal, including a decrease in proposed condominium units, a reduction in gross residential floor area, a reduction in building height on the east and west ends of the building, and a doubling of employee housing beds over the requirement. It is rare for a developer to build more parking spaces that are required, yet Crossroads has 103 more than code and as part of our negotiations agreed to manage those spaces in such a manner as to help alleviate some of our town-wide parking issues. The most important compromise, however, is the addition of the public plaza to the development. The developer could easily have avoided the “height” controversy and simply created more residential units in the center of the development, with a project that probably would have been only three or four stories. However, based on master planning documents outlining goals for the area, they realized the importance of creating a public gathering space, and shifted that development potential to the back of the lot to allow room for the plaza and skating rink.Another claim that I find unfair and untrue is the statement that this development will lead to rampant overdevelopment of other areas of town, such as West Lionshead and West Vail. The town has been diligent in revising and creating master plans to help set goals for vital areas in town. I am one of two council representatives on the West Vail Master Plan Committee. This master plan is intended for use as a policy guide in the development review process for those contemplating and making decisions regarding the redevelopment of properties in the area. As we consider alternatives for the future potential redevelopment of that area, we have been very careful to weigh the benefits and risks that could come of more density or more height. We’ve held public meetings, with good attendance and input from neighbors and citizens. I believe we have been and will continue to be very responsive to questions, concerns, and ideas that are expressed in those meetings and on the street. As we have created goals and objectives, we have exclusively considered the plan area and the neighborhood, not what kind or size of development is allowed in other parts of town.I can sincerely say that in voting to approve Crossroads, I believe that we are improving our town and adding to its vitality and charm. I do not think that this will set a precedent that encourages each new development to be “bigger” or “taller.” What works at Crossroads may not work elsewhere in town, and we’ve proven through other planning processes (such as in West Vail) that we are diligent in examining the neighborhood and surrounding area. Contrary to claims of some community members, I am absolutely confident that each of our seven council members is capable and committed to voting on each and every proposed development based solely on that particular development’s zoning, potential ramifications, and proposed community benefits. The Crossroads decision has not and will not change that. Although this council may not agree with a 7-0 vote on every issue or proposal, we are a dedicated group, each with a passion for Vail and an honest commitment to making our town the premier mountain resort community. I voted in favor of Crossroads redevelopment because I believe that it is another step toward helping us to realize that vision.Kim Newbury is a member of the Vail Town Council.