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Don’t be fooled

Kaye Ferry

I love a good fight. A healthy debate is exhilarating. It makes you stretch. Forces you to push comfort limits. Exposes you to different points of view. Oftentimes results in you altering your ideas and incorporating different perspectives into your thinking.There is a caveat, however. Everyone participating must be playing by the same set of rules. Honesty is a primary criteria. Truthfulness another. Integrity is right up there with the ability to play fair.So why would I bring that up now? Because I find this whole Crossroads thing to be distressing on many levels.To begin with, as I’ve said before, another vote is not necessary. We settled this in November. The voters made it perfectly clear that anyone opposing the Crossroads redevelopment was out of sync with the community. Those incumbents who were hanging on to the past were given their marching papers. A couple of other council members were just lucky their names weren’t on the 2005 ballot or they would have found themselves with free Tuesdays as well.So to say the voters must decide is pure rubbish. We did.Then the whole special development district issue keeps working its way to the forefront. It’s as though the developer somehow pulled a fast one on the town. Like he moved ahead against the will of the town government. Like he acted alone. How many times does it have to be said? The town controlled this process. Two years ago, he was directed by the Planning Commission to proceed as a special development district. He was told very clearly, DO NOT REZONE. That was for application No. 1.Before application No. 2 was submitted after the November election, the question was raised again. Since there was so much controversy over the first application, let’s ask one final time. Should Crossroads rezone or continue as a special development district?This time, on Jan. 3, the Town Council answered with a 5-2 vote. Special development district is how Mr. Knobel was told to proceed in front of a packed house. Not packed by the petitioners, I might add, but packed by those who had diligently followed the project from day one.So off he went. Orders in hand. Back to the Planning Commission to start over. He actually made the building smaller than they had approved in August. He didn’t need to do that. There was no reason to think the Planning Commission wouldn’t approve the same plans they had approved in August. But smaller it was, and once again, thumbs up.And back to the council for final approval in March. Hurrah! He finally got it. The last stop was to have been the town Design Review Board. But some had other ideas.So why is it that we’re now faced with a petition after all of that? Because a small group has decided they know better than the rest of us. Better than the Planning Commission. Better than the Town Council. And better than the voters in the last election.Only I think even they know they’re grasping at straws. Why? Because if they had a real winable case, they would play by the rules. And tell the truth. And stick to the facts. But they aren’t because they don’t.They are twisting things. And making them up. And misstating the issues. All in the hopes that some of you will know even less than they do.Things like a building that will be “30 feet taller than the tallest crane in town.” A blatant lie. The Vail Plaza crane is 190 feet tall. That would bring Crossroads in at 220 feet! Pretty soon we’d have Trump Towers! Good thing that’s not true. In fact it is 99.7 feet tall from Meadow Drive and 87.5 feet tall from the Frontage Road at its highest peak. It goes down to four stories on the southwest corner. These are town measurements. As a reference, the Vail Plaza Hotel is 104 feet at its tallest point; the Four Seasons is 98 feet tall, the Marriott is 103 feet tall, and the Ritz Residences is 112 at its highest point. Things like signing the petition will “guarantee the developer will automatically take off two floors.” More fantasy.Things like the process was “short circuited”. How does two years sound? Hardly a “bending of the code” or “carte blanche” approval. I don’t recall any project being subjected to such unending scrutiny.Things like the public benefits “can disappear at any time.” Yeah, right. That is if the developer wants to incur $11,000 A DAY IN PENALTIES. Things like the new building will have “400 percent more building mass.” What is that? In fact, there is no such thing as a building mass regulation. As for zoning, the existing building is already bigger than the current zoning allows. Everyone knows that the current zoning has nothing to do with anything. It was put in place in the 1960s and never updated. That’s why the special development district was dictated with the 1990s Master Plan as the guiding document. And the Master Plan was followed EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.Believe me, I could go on. The stories on the street are ludicrous. They would almost be funny if they weren’t so insulting. And they think they can get away with it because they think you don’t know any better.But I think you do. If you’re told the truth that is. Just don’t assume that’s the case.My suggestion is the same as it was last week. Enough already! DON’T SIGN THE PETITION. It’ll lose at the polls anyway. Even one of the petitioners admitted that to me. And if you have signed and wish you hadn’t, here’s what you can and should do. Send a letter to Lorelei Donaldson, Town Clerk, Town of Vail, 75 S. Frontage Road, Vail 81657 and state the reason why you’d like your name removed from the petition.Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily. Vail, Colorado


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