How big will Vail Valley get? |

How big will Vail Valley get?

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Could the Vail Valley and Eagle County really end up with nearly 54,000 homes in the next 50 years? The answer won’t be known for years, perhaps decades, but a new estimate of the county’s capacity for growth churned out the number above.

That number is the result of computer mapping and estimates from consultant Lex Ivey, who’s been working on this math problem for the past year or so.

Ivey Tuesday presented the latest results from his work to the Eagle County Commissioners in a series of maps, charts and estimates.

Ivey didn’t just use zoning maps and acreage numbers to generate this estimate, instead using something he calls “development preference mapping.” That system extrapolates government policy about items including walking distance to stores and transportation and where existing utilities are to create a system that could determine where to put potential future development. Ivey’s system also includes topographic information to map out walking distances and times.

The result is a potential land use map that concentrates growth around existing town and community centers.

Ivey called the maps a way of “playing offense” regarding development.

The commissioners were impressed with the technology, but weren’t sure what potential uses Ivey’s work might have.

County planner Cliff Simonton said Ivey’s maps could be used to guide growth to places such as Eagle-Vail, which is already close to job centers, transportation and shopping.

But Commissioner Peter Runyon said it’s unlikely that Eagle-Vail could see much more high-density growth, since it’s already virtually built out.

“This is an opportunity for you to look at density as redevelopment occurs,” Simonton said.

But Commissioner Jon Stavney said there are “realistic constraints” on putting more homes and people in places such as Eagle-Vail, and wondered just how useful Ivey’s planning tools might be.

“We really need to think about how we can put this to use,” Commissioner Sara Fisher said. “I can see it being useful for planning for transit, both here and in the Roaring Fork Valley. A key component as we buid is how people are going to move.”

But, Runyon said, no planning tool should be used alone.

“We shouldn’t let this drive what we do,” he said. “That’s up to the community to decide.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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