East Vail parcel’s ownership constant, but a bit jumbled

Parcel was listed for decades as belonging to the Colorado Department of Transportation

Vail Resorts or its corporate predecessors have owned this parcel in East Vail. But the ownership picture was jumbled in the 1960s, and the parcel fell off the county's tax rolls.
Four facts
  • What: A 23.3 acre parcel in East Vail.
  • Ownership: Vail Resorts, since 1961.
  • Disappearance from tax rolls: Some time in the late 1960s.
  • Vail Resorts reasserted its ownership in 2017.

VAIL — Vail Resorts, or one of its corporate precursors, since the early 1960s owned a parcel of land in East Vail now proposed for workforce housing. But the parcel’s history is a little jumbled, which has raised questions in the community.

According to county records, the East Vail parcel was first purchased in 1899 under the auspices of the federal Homestead Act.

In the early 1960s, the parcel was purchased by the Trans Montane Company, the predecessor of Vail Associates. Vail Associates bought the land in 1961. That company in turn became Vail Resorts in the mid-1990s.

The East Vail parcel was originally quite a big larger than its current 23.3 acres. Vail Resorts in the 1960s sold some of the parcel to the Colorado Department of Highways, which is now called the Colorado Department of Transportation. That land was used for Interstate 70 and associated right of way.

That’s the point at which the story starts to jumble.

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The tax question

Eagle County Assessor Mark Chapin said research done by his staff indicates that the parcel was on the county tax rolls — with Vail Associates as the owner — until some point in the “mid- to late 1960s.”

At that point, county records show the property owned by the state, and exempt from taxation.

Even after the town of Vail annexed the property in the early 1970s and its subsequent zoning for “two-family” residential use — duplex lots — the parcel was noted as being owned by the state.

That mistake lasted until about 2016. The property was identified as state-owned in the 1994 version of the Vail Open Lands Plan.

As part of the research into the most recent version of the Open Lands Plan, it was determined that Vail Resorts, and not the state, owned the property. That’s when Vail Resorts became aware that the company owned the land.

The company filed an affidavit of ownership for the land with Chapin’s office in June of 2017. The company then paid property taxes for 2015 and 2016. Chapin said the company is current on its tax payments.

According to Chapin, Vail Resorts was legally responsible for only those payments. In Colorado, property is re-assessed every two years. By law, retroactive taxes can only be levied for the previous period. In 2017, a property owner would only be liable for taxes levied in 2015 and subsequent years.

Changing the zoning

With the ownership straightened out, Vail Resorts in 2017 requested re-zoning for the parcel into two different pieces from the existing two-family residential. The proposal was passed by the Vail Town Council in October of 2017. Part of the land — 5.4 acres — is zoned for workforce housing. The remaining 17.9 acres is zoned “natural area preservation,” one of the town’s most restrictive zone districts.

Vail-based Triumph Development now has a contract to purchase the parcel, and has proposed building 73 units on the property. Of those, 42 units are proposed for rental housing, with another 19 as deed-restricted townhomes. Another 12 units would be unrestricted. Town regulations allow up to 30 percent of floor area to be unrestricted in the housing zone district to subsidize the deed-restricted units.

The Vail Planning and Environmental Commission on Monday will hold its third hearing on the proposal. That hearing begins at 1 p.m. in the Vail Town Council chambers in Vail Town Hall.

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