Letter: Let voters decide on East Vail employee housing
I attended the Vail Community Meeting and listened as the East Vail employee housing project was mentioned by Vail Mayor Dave Chapin and Town Manager Greg Clifton, who called for the community to come together on this divisive matter. They obviously recognize that the issue has divided the town like no other in recent memory.
Since reasonable people could reach different conclusions on whether our pressing need for employee housing trumps wildlife preservation, why is the East Vail project so contentious?
In my opinion, there are three reasons for public concern:
- Five members of the Town Council voted last week in favor of the proposal to have the town acquire the East Vail parcel. Accordingly, there is a concern in the community that the same council members, at the next meeting on Tuesday, will simply rubber-stamp their earlier decision regardless of what the public has to say.
- The Vail Housing Department and the Vail Local Housing Authority have been doing an excellent job of creating a pool of deed-restricted housing, but in the process they have favored developers to such an extent that the public could, legitimately, ask if the East Vail project ever received an adequate review of the wildlife impacts and other concerns, including transportation and neighborhood compatibility.
- During the rezoning process, many asked how rezoning could proceed when Vail Resorts had not indicated what it intended to build on the site. Those skeptics were told “not to worry” because when the plan for development was submitted — and it still has not been submitted — it would be carefully reviewed by the Planning and Environmental Commission, perhaps multiple times, before final approval. With the town of Vail as owner, most of the early skeptics are now saying that the town and the PEC are on the same side of the table, eliminating any real chance for an independent review.
Under the circumstances, I believe there is only one sensible course of action. Instead of rubber-stamping its earlier decision on Tuesday, the Town Council should come and schedule the matter for a vote by the people of Vail.
Alan S. Danson