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Plans everywhere!

Jim Lamont

The following is the fourth 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.comNeigh-borhood master planning: The association sought the preparation of a master plan for the West Vail Shopping Center area and other non-master planned areas. The town of Vail has commissioned the preparation of such a plan for the shopping center area. Subsequent to the announcement of a new lift portal by Vail Resorts, a similar plan is being prepared for the West Lionshead area. The association is participating as a public advocate in the preparation of these plans as they are the primary tools to evaluate and guide public or private development that will effect the mutual interests of association members and constituents. The master plans are being prepared as the primary tool to evaluate and guide public or private development proposals. The association participates as a public interest advocate as each of these plans will affect quality of life and the economic interests of its members. Vail’s Community Town Center plan: The concept for the redevelopment of the West Shopping Center area is to create a mixed-use community town center. The primary purpose of the Town Center is to provide for commercial and residential uses which focus on the domestic (as contrasted to the resort) needs of the community. The plan, now in its formative stages, would bring increased density to provide for more retail, lodging, residential and office opportunities. There would be increased supporting infrastructure for parking, loading and delivery and community facilities. Traffic circulation and building height is being designed to minimize impacts on existing adjacent residential properties. The challenge for the town is how does it encourage all property owners in the planning area to participate by redeveloping their property in conformity with the plan? Some are suggesting that the plan should not be adopted until there is a master development agreement approved by all affected property owners. Such an agreement would require all property owners to contract with a primary developer who would assume the financial risk to redevelop the entire area. West Lionshead portal plan: Vail Resorts Inc. has submitted an application for a ski lift in the vicinity of its maintenance facility. The company has acquired several developed properties in the area. The town of Vail has initiated a master planning process for the area. The development concept being discussed includes on the South Frontage Road consideration of a major employee parking structure, residential and commercial development, the relocation and consolidation of VRI’s maintenance facility, a significant realignment and expansion of the South Frontage Road, a mass transit terminal and the enhancement of the Sandstone Creek stream tract. The purpose of the new lift portal is to support the development of new residential and commercial use, as well as to accommodate related on-mountain transportation and service needs. The point has been discussed that commercial uses in the area should also focus on ensuring that the proposed parking structure is used in the evening hours and that the area should provide a positive sales tax return to the town of Vail. The association has requested that the realignment of the South Frontage Road be incorporated into a new master beautification and traffic circulation plan for the South Frontage. The association has recommended that on-street parking be discouraged and that the width of the roadway emphasize a traffic circulation pattern that minimizes the amount of asphalt and increases the landscape areas, giving the Frontage Road the appearance of a parkway rather than the industrial appearance it now has. Further, the association has requested that the proposed I-70 Simba Run underpass be giving serious review and consideration as part of the master planning process. Tract K snow cat route and Cascade Village/Glen Lyon lift remain in doubt: The association has urged that the town of Vail and VRI work with appropriate parties in Cascade Village and the Glen Lyon subdivision to integrate their interests into the West Lionshead portal plan. The contractual agreement that VRI has for the Cascade Village lift will expire within the next several years. VRI has requested that Glen Lyon property owners abandon certain covenant protections on the town-owned Tract K open space so that the access route for VRI’s snowcats can be relocated from its present route on West Forest Road. The proposed new route to be built in conjunction with the redevelopment of West Lionshead would not impact any adjoining residential properties in Glen Lyon, according to technical studies conducted by VRI in compliance with town regulations. A number of Glen Lyon property owners have blocked a covenant amendment that would permit the Tract K access route. It is reported that those blocking the proposed route have requested certain conditions and considerations in return for their agreement to amend the covenants. VRI has refused to accept the proposition and has withdrawn its application pending before the Vail Town Council to construct the access route. It is surmised that property values in Glen Lyon could well be affected should VRI refuse to renew its agreement to accommodate the Glen Lyon lift. If a compromise is to be reached over Tract K access, it will most likely turn on the terms of the continued existence of the Glen Lyon lift. The association has taken the position that the acceptance of the Tract K snow cat access route and related operation agreements will improve the quality of life and serve the economic interests of all affected residential property owners, both on West Forest Road, Cascade Village, and the Glen Lyon subdivision. It favors a quid pro quo agreement that, in exchange for VRI’s acceptance of responsibilities to ensure the continued existence of the Glen Lyon lift, property owners in the Glen Lyon subdivision approve a covenant amendment allowing the snow cat access route on Tract K. The association does not support the use of eminent domain (condemnation) powers by the town of Vail, except in circumstances where there is mutual agreement among all concerned parties. Community improvement and facilities planning projects: The association advocates the allocation of the multi-million-dollar town of Vail budget for community and neighborhood improvement projects that jointly benefit visitors, full- and part-time residents. The association participates in various aspects of the programming and design of these projects. The Vail Village streetscape and dispersed loading and delivery terminal project is the most notable.Community facilities planning: There is a need to provide a comprehensive approach to the planning and prioritization of all types of community facilities. The failure to have such a plan for recreation facilities led to severe financial difficulties for the Vail Recreation District. The district has for the most part recovered from five years of financial and organizational readjustment. The difficulties caused political conflict between the Recreation District and the town of Vail. In general, the town of Vail owns either or both the land and improvements which the Recreation District operates under various lease agreements. The association takes the position that all community facilities, whether they are recreational, cultural, social or wellness related, should be incorporated in a comprehensive plan that identifies sites, development programs and costs for a diverse range of facilities for all age groups. The prioritization for the development of these facilities should be ranked according to each facility’s ability to serve the broadest distribution of age and income as represented by the community’s primary full- and part-time resident and guest constituencies. Such an approach will, in the estimation of the association, yield the highest utilization and return on investment for each facility.To continue with the same evaluation process that led to these Vail Recreation District difficulties would be inappropriate and counter productive. A new system of evaluation and planning must be applied. The Recreation District, because of its limited mission, should not be the sole entity involved in planning for community facilities. Organizations that provide other community-oriented amenities and enhancements, in conjunction with those who represent economic and community constituent or philanthropic interests, should be incorporated in the planning process. Jim Lamont was the town of Vail’s first director of community development (1972-77). The executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association is a professional town planner and has been involved in most aspects of Vail’s development during his career. Vail, Colorado


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