Front Door land swap completed |

Front Door land swap completed

VAIL – Vail Resorts has finally acquired land for its Front Door project with a swap that puts hundreds of acres of sensitive wildlife habitat in public hands.But a federal court case challenges the land exchange, and it’s unclear if the company will now proceed with its plans for the land.The company announced Wednesday that it has completed the exchange with the Forest Service that will give the resort company 5.13 acres near the base of the Vista Bahn at Vail Mountain. In exchange, the Forest Service gets 610 acres of land in two parcels – at the Vassar Meadows wetlands south of Eagle and near Game Creek Bowl on Vail Mountain.A Vail homeowner has filed a complaint in federal district court against the Forest Service that seeks to overturn the swap. The homeowner, Luanne Wells, says the Front Door parcel was undervalued by a Forest Service appraisal.Wells’ attorney said he expects a decision in eight to 18 months. He also said Wells will bring the complaint to federal appeals court if she is unsuccessful in district court.Vail Resorts plans to use Front Door land to build a skier-service building, a private club, townhomes and a plaza. Construction was supposed to start this spring. Now, there is no construction timeline, the company has said.”We are extremely pleased that we have completed the exchange with the Forest Service for the 5-acre federal parcel,” said Vail Resorts chief exec Rob Katz in a press release. “It allows us to proceed to the next steps in the Front Door project.”Vail Resorts Development Company spokesman Paul Witt did not comment on what “the next steps” would be.The land that the Forest Service receives includes 120 acres at Vassar Meadows donated by the Conservation Fund.”Today’s announcement is a great example of business working cooperatively with all levels of government and the nonprofit sector to achieve a result that balances the economic necessities of Colorado’s ski industry with the protection of wildlife habitat and recreation areas for future generations,” Tom Macy, the Conservation Fund’s western director, said in a press release.Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or, Colorado

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