Freestyle center lawsuit takes a digger
A judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed last fall by Keystone homeowners who oppose plans to build the Landon Morley Sawyer Freestyle Training Center and other new recreation amenities at the ski resort.
Fifth Judicial District Judge David R. Lass dismissed the suit on Feb. 18. He said the lawsuit was not “ripe” yet. It’s too early for Keystone homeowners to file a lawsuit because the proposed training center and other amenities have not been built yet, the judge’s most recent report said.
About 100 homeowners from Quicksilver Condominiums and the Tennis Townhouses joined the suit against Vail Resorts.
In the suit, homeowners said, they “do not have to wait until (Keystone) sinks shovels into the ground” before they can file an effective lawsuit. But Lass did not agree.
The homeowners can, however, file their lawsuit when Keystone begins building the training amenities such as a ski jump ramp several stories tall in the valley, Lass said, especially if developers do not get permission from the Keystone Architectural and Planning Control Board.
The architectural control board monitors rules that were set for the Keystone community in 1972. The covenants were written to make sure owners keep all properties attractive with suitable uses and architecture. A suit can be filed if anything is done that conflicts with any laws, Lass said.
The Summit County Commissioners unanimously approved a rezoning Oct. 13 for the former tennis center to be used as a freestyle training center. The approval changed Keystone’s planning documents on file with the county.
The indoor and outdoor tennis courts will be transformed into a world-class freestyle training facility. Plans call for indoor and outdoor trampolines, a ski jump, gymnastics floor, foam pits, weight training center and possibly a skateboarding and BMX biking park.
Keystone homeowners originally wanted a judge outside of Summit County to review the case. They felt there was no way a judge in Colorado’s premier ski country would rule against a center that would bring more athletes to the area.
The homeowners would have to prove that Keystone has “undue influence over the minds and inhabitants of the community,” and a “prejudice against plaintiffs,” said court documents.
When the homeowners bought their houses, many of them have said, they thought they were buying into a tennis community. But advocates of the freestyle center say the homeowners who are filing the lawsuit don’t understand the facility will probably improve the value of their homes.
“Freestyle skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding are a lot more popular than tennis,” said Daniel Finholm, 15. “They probably think its just a bunch of punks, but the sports have changed a lot. It’s way more accepted now.”
The Winter X Games at Aspen in January drew crowds of up to 50,000 people.
Some of the Keystone homeowners who joined the lawsuit bought homes when the zoning permitted a tennis center, not a freestyle center. They do not want the extra traffic the center will likely bring.
Meanwhile, the center also received its business license this week from Summit County. A grand opening is scheduled for mid-April.
“My family is really excited about the freestyle center,” said Annie Black, a Keystone resident, ski instructor and mother of three young athletes. “As a parent, I see the snow parks are full and I just want them to have a safe, controlled environment to learn this stuff before they get on the snow.”
The freestyle center was initiated by the parents of Landon Sawyer, who died in a skiing accident in 2002. The skiing and snowboarding program for youth, Team Summit, is working with the Sawyers and Keystone on the project.