Homeowner group helps shape Vail
The following is the fifth installment from the Vail Village Homeowners Association’s 2005 Annual Long Report to the association’s membership and constituencies. The full report can be obtained on the association’s Web site http://www.vailhomeowners.comPrivate redevelopment projects: The association has influenced $1 billion in redevelopment projects as they affect the shared property right interests and quality-of-life issues of the membership. The association provides oversight of the town of Vail review processes, including the Planning and Environmental Commission, Design Review Board, and Town Council. It functions as a policy advocate and intermediary among affected property owners, who are members of the association, project developers, other interest groups, and the town of Vail on development regulatory matters. Redevelopment projects: Redevelopment projects in progress are the Vail Front Door, Crossroads, Four Seasons, Vail Plaza Hotel, One Willow Bridge Road, Sonnenalp Bavaria Haus, Evergreen Lodge, Tivoli Lodge, Manor Vail Lodge, Lionshead Core Site (ArraBelle), and Ritz-Carlton Residences. Residential home development was tracked to insure that regulatory processes were being fairly and consistently applied. It should be expected that the Town Council will consider the repeal of GRFA in single-family and duplex zone district in 2006. P3 & J project parking structure-park completed: The dedication on July 4 of the Bob Parker Plaza and Founder Parking Garage (aka, P3&J project) was a hallmark accomplishment for the association. The dedication ended an initiative begun in 1991 with the formation of the Homeowners Association. It was the purpose of the association to insure that development of the site protected the interest of the surrounding neighborhood and was developed in accord with legal and other requirements. At the time the association was formed, the site was being proposed as a central truck dock for Vail Village and the neighborhood was already clogged with trucks staging handcart deliveries to Bridge Street businesses. The association’s effort opened the door to a cooperative effort with Vail Resorts (the owner of the property) and the town of Vail that laid the ground works for the Vail Front Door project and other initiatives to upgrade Vail Village. Efforts included a new disperse loading and delivery system for Vail Village and $12 million-$14 million in streetscape improvements. The $10 million P3& J project created a public park, major streetscape improvements throughout the immediate area and a landscaped enclosed private parking structure for property owners in Vail Village. Proposed Vail conference center: The association, as an observer, participated in the deliberations of the Vail Town Council-appointed Conference Center Study Committee. The association sought to ensure the highest standards of accountability in the preparation and analysis for all aspects of the development proposal. Changes in the proposal cause the association to request its resubmission to the voters. The association concluded the proposal was inappropriate. It participated in a coalition of interested parties to decisively defeat the ballot measure (806-542).Town election reforms: Quirkiness in the town of Vail election procedures and fair campaign practices policies were reported by the association during the town election. The subject of the association report was highlighted when immediately after its publication, a council candidate had to withdraw from the race. His withdrawal was required because of term limits requirement in the Colorado Constitution, adopted by referendum some years before. The town had either not known or understood the applicability of the state-mandated term limits requirement. There is additional anecdotal evidence that a reform of the home rule charter may be necessary, as well as a bipartisan oversight evaluation of the community’s ethics and procedures with respect to its fair-campaign practices. There is confusion and concerns about the role of public employees and the local media in influencing campaigns. Effect of transient employee voter bloc experienced: The influence of the transient employee voter was clearly felt in the election. A recruitment, registration, and bloc voting operation targeting this group is in large measure responsible for determining the outcome of the election.The operation was conducted by a coalition of disgruntled developers. A transient employee voter is one who has residence in the community for more than 30 days and typically moves away in a year or less. More than 300 new voters were registered in the town of Vail between January and the November election. There was a 13-vote margin between the leading and the seventh-place finisher in a field of nine candidates for four open council seats. Bloc voting is very important when the full tally of votes cast was 1,356, which is a typically high turnout (35.7 percent) for a regular Vail election. It is reported that residency requirements is some Colorado communities can be as long as one year. Questions have been raised if Vail, as a home rule community, has the latitude of varying its residency requirement beyond the 30-day minimum standard.Intergovernmental liaison, Eagle County Airport: The association initiated an effort to upgrade the Eagle County Regiional Airport. An assessment was conducted of the airport functionality from the standpoint of air travel between Vail/Eagle County Airport and Chicago O’Hare. The importance of the Eagle County Airport to the future of Vail cannot be overstated. Every effort must be made to expand service and upgrade facilities for both public and private aircraft. Improvements are being made, such as the installation of a new radar system, that will improve airport landing and takeoff operations during bad weather. The county commissioners are requesting an airport interchange on I-70 giving passengers direct access, eliminating delays now caused by routing airport traffic through downtown Eagle and Gypsum on two-lane state highway. The proposed interchange is in competition with proposed I-70 improvements from other Eagle County communities.A complete assessment of the airport limitations and opportunities should be included in long-range master planning efforts for Vail. The greater use there is of the Eagle County Airport, the greater will be the conflict with surrounding communities. Any limitation on service could adversely affect Vail. The association suggests that the county’s mass transit system (ECO) should provide direct bus service to passenger between Vail and the airport terminal. Such a service will provide another incentive for destination guest to access the Vail through the Eagle County Airport. Greater effort, which would benefit the consumer, should put to creating competition among those entities that service the airport.Vail should urge Eagle County authorities to make plans to upgrade the airport that are in sequence with planned changes and shifts of trends in the complexion of Vail and the other communities the airport serves. Oversight of the airports capacity, service, and facilities should be incorporated into the function of the Town of Vail and the community’s business associations. It can be foreseen, even now, that all-weather improvements are necessary, including enclosing the access ways between the terminal and planes. The airport plan should be brought into balance and sequenced with projected growth for its service region.The financial planning for subsidies required to expand service to Eagle from more national hubs should be long-range. It should be sequenced with projected advances in aircraft technology as well as growth in visitor and residential populations. A plan should be put in place to accommodate international flights and customs facilities as economic and related factors permit. Planning should be premised on service demands that would arise for major international events being scheduled more frequently into Vail and the region. Jim Lamont is the executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association.