Highland Meadows: An island of peace
Highland Meadows in the past was relatively dormant for a number of years, a quiet little community with beautiful views and lush trees. The mountainside location was often dark, sparsely dotted only with the lights of the homes of a few locals.
But for the last decade or so the little niche has experienced an onslaught of building activity consisting of larger, upper-end homes. The close proximity to Vail Village and the Mountain certainly plays a major role for this lovely area that clings to the north-facing mountainside west of Cascade Village and south of Interstate 70 from Safeway. After all, real estate is about location and it seems a surprise that it took as long as it did for the bulldozers to begin the development push.
The homes layer up the mountainside. Talk with the residents and many feel there a sense of a quiet, insulated, island-like atmosphere reflected in their neighborhood, and enjoyable little niche of approximately 82 homes. The area is probably divided about 50-50 between locals and second-home owners. However, the second-home owners seem to be spending longer periods of time in their homes in Highland Meadows; it is not a two-week-a-year area for the quick-trip “guest” but rather second-home owners who reside for months and consider themselves part of the community.
While Highland Meadows is not an area that has sidewalks for biking or pocket parks dotting the neighborhood, it does consist of families who walk the streets enjoying the views and the serene atmosphere of the neighborhood. And despite the lack of manmade recreational accoutrements, the community backs onto one of the best recreational fields in the world ” the vast Forest Service land.
It is nature’s perfect playground with enticing hiking trails that slice through the alpine-laden forest rising above the community that neighbors can access from their homes. The trails from the Lionshead ridge offer enthralling snowshoeing opportunities with out-of-bounds trails leading to each end of Highland Meadows. And skiers with an enormous sense of adventure in their soul (and a million hours at the gym under their belt) have been known to ski the out-of-bounds area down the mountainside into the neighborhood for a quick walk home from the slopes. And while this is definitely not recommended, it is an interesting tidbit that upon occasion happens and we are merely reporting its occurrence.
Donovan Park and Pavilion is at the base of Highland Meadows, a short drive or brisk walk, and offers a delightful manmade playground with interesting equipment to keep young children entertained for hours. Gore Creek borders the park to the south and not only imparts a natural melodic background but also provides a fly-fisherman’s paradise.
It’s impossible to look at any area in the Vail Valley that does not reflect a fascinating history and, of course, Highland Meadows is no exception. The community stands alone as an independent unannexed section in the middle of West Vail. On December 24, 1980, there was an election which annexed all areas of West Vail into the Town of Vail, of which Highland Meadows was a part.
However, several citizens filed an appeal, and five years later on Sept. 11, 1985, a judge ordered a de-annexation of all the previously annexed sections of West Vail. Since 1985, the different neighborhoods of West Vail have slowly renewed their annexation ” all except Highland Meadows, which remains un-annexed to the Town of Vail. As an unincorporated area of Eagle County, Highland Meadows is governed by the county’s zoning regulations. Services are also provided to the area by the county. An advantage of the un-annexed status is that the area, unlike its neighbors, does not carry a 1 percent transfer tax with the purchase of a home in Highland Meadows.
Over the years there has been some interest expressed in Highland Meadows joining the town but there has been evidently no serious follow-up.
At 2006 year-end Highland Meadows had a total of $9,492,500 in total sales volume with eight transactions accounting for 0.34 percent of Eagle County’s total percent of volume and 0.26 percent of total numbers of Eagle County’s transactions. Currently listed for sale on the market are three homes ranging in price from $2.5 million to $2.990 million.
Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the happenings of Vail’s New Dawn, the vertically oriented community has maintained its own calm nook and whose close proximity to Vail Mountain and the Village has brought the area to the development forefront. Throughout the years Highland Meadows has continued to maintain its independence but with the superb location, the serene atmosphere, and with the exquisite backdrop of Forest Service land, it was impossible to maintain its comparative anonymity for long.
Highland Meadows mountainside is no longer dark in the evenings. The glow from the homes of families enjoying the wonders of the Vail Valley twinkle brightly and the beams continue to increase like strings of lights being added to a Christmas tree. As the lights are added the tree simply becomes more and more dazzling.