Enough! Don’t sign those petitions | VailDaily.com

Enough! Don’t sign those petitions

Kaye Ferry

The heat just got turned up, but this time I think the petitioners have gone on a fool’s errand.I don’t know where to start. The news release would be a good place. One of the signers was quoted as saying this project had been, wait, let me get the paper for the exact quote. He said it had been “rammed through.” Where I come from, “rammed through” hardly applies to two years of hearings. Crossroads was approved twice by the Planning Commission and once by the Town Council.And I can honestly say that I attended almost every one of the PEC hearings. Having said that, I can say I never once saw the signer in question, and that’s where most of the real work was done. I’m actually told that he saw the model for the first time last week.By the way, he’s not the only one. I only saw one of the petitioners at any of the many PEC meetings. A couple showed up for show time at the Town council meetings. One guy never appeared for anything. And I know for a fact that several of those circulating the petition have never once attended any meeting at all – ever. Period. Hardly a hands-on or informed approach.One signer was quoted as worrying about Bridge Street. What does that have to do with the Frontage Road? The answer is nothing, unless scare tactics are your goal.Another thinks Crossroads represents a “major shift in the appeal of Vail”(the implication was towards negative). Well, I would venture to say that depends on your point of view. And your age. And your financial situation. And whether or not you have kids. Or like movies. Or are trying to live here. And make a living here. Or entertain guests here. That “shift in appeal” is more likely towards positive, depending on who you ask.There are several things to keep in mind when mulling over this whole petition process. Things that will probably be distorted by those attempting to stop the wrecking ball.Let’s start at the beginning because that’s at the root of the problem. Mr. Knobel is being chastised for using the special development district as a vehicle for redevelopment. Here’s the truth, and it’s critical. The town of Vail, through its staff and Planning Commission, recommended the developer use the SDD. They advised against rezoning that piece of property.Why? Because Crossroads shares its current zoning with two other properties in the town. If the zoning were changed, all three parcels would have had to be treated the same, and the town didn’t want that. They wanted this piece to stand on its own. One of the reasons was they wanted to extract whatever extras they could, otherwise known as “public benefits,” in exchange for any variances given. Something they couldn’t do under zoning.And in case there was any confusion, after the last election when the second application for development was about to wind it way through the system, the question was again put to the town. And for a second time, the Town Council recommended that Crossroads proceed as a special development district. It couldn’t have been more clear.So at this point, to criticize the developer for doing exactly what the town directed twice is absurd. Let’s stop using smoke and mirrors on that issue. If there’s blame here, it’s not Mr. Knobel’s.But I have another question. Where were all of these people when the Vail Plaza Hotel was approved? Or the Four Seasons? Or Arrabelle, for that matter? OK, Arrabelle followed zoning, but they changed the zoning. Did anyone threaten a petition when they changed the zoning in order to get that size building? Not that I recall. Or the Ritz Residences. Oh sure. Its tower is called an “architectural feature,” but it’s still 112 feet tall, something that required a variance and approval by both the PEC and Design Review Board with NO compensating public benefit. No petition against that either.So while we’re at it, just what are these elusive things known as public benefits? I’ll take a stab at that definition. They are amenities that add value to the community. They make locals happy they live here. They make guests glad they’ve visited and inspire them to return. They add to the Vail experience. And they probably wouldn’t exist unless someone’s arm was twisted into providing them. In this case that someone is Mr. Knobel, only his arm wasn’t twisted. He actually sat down and studied Vail. He tried to decide what the community needed. And what it lacked. And what his family and other families would like. And use. And then he asked the community.Together they collectively created a list. Bowling alley. Movies theaters. Ice skating rink. Plaza. Market. Parking. Fountains. Trees. Flowers. Art. They studied the master plan. Then they drew up a their plan. And they sought the advice of the town. And they changed the plan.They got approved by the PEC. And denied by the Town Council. And approved by the PEC. And approved by the Town Council.In between, two council persons lost their seats when they opposed the project. What else is there? You’ll have to be the judge. This project has been studied to the exhaustion of anybody who was involved in the process.This project has been approved by every board it has appeared before.So my suggestion? Don’t sign the petition. Enough is enough. It will lose anyway at the polls. Why slow things down for another year?This project needs to move forward. The eyesore known as Crossroads needs to become Solaris.Any questions left? Meet with the developer from 10 a.m. to noon tomorrow, Thursday, in Suite 235, Crossroads.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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