Residents challenge Crossroads
VAIL ” A group of Vail residents began the process Tuesday to hold a townwide vote on the controversial proposal to bring an ice rink, a movie theater and a bowling alley to Crossroads in Vail Village.
Tom Steinberg, a member of the petitioners’ committee, said the 99.9-foot-tall proposed building, now called “Solaris” by its developer, will set a precedent of buildings that are too large for Vail.
“I don’t want to see Bridge Street and the Lodge at Vail going to 10 stories,” said Steinberg, who was a Vail councilman for 18 years. “It’s more than just this building. It’s setting a tone for the rest of Vail.”
Steinberg, Robert Fritch, Elaine Kelton, Dick Pownall and Andy Wiessner are members of the petitioners’ committee. They have until April 20 to collect 380 signatures ” 10 percent of voters.
If the committee collects enough signatures, the Town Council must consider repealing the ordinance by a three-fourths majority. If the ordinance isn’t repealed, the issue would go to voters in a special election that would have to occur by June, and would cost the town an estimated $5,000-$6,000.
The council voted 4-3 at its March 21 meeting to approve the Crossroads proposal.
The project includes 69 condos, a three-screen movie theater, a 10-lane bowling alley, a public plaza and ice rink, store and restaurants.
Developer Peter Knobel cited the results of November’s election, which saw two council members who opposed the Crossroads proposal ” Diana Donovan and Dick Cleveland voted out of office ” as evidence that Vail residents are in favor of his development.
“It’s (the petitioners’) right to do so under the town code, but we think the community has already voted on this issue in November’s election,” Knobel said.
On a per-acre basis, the above-ground bulk of the project is smaller than that of the nearby Vail Plaza Hotel and Club and the Four Seasons, Knobel said.
“We feel that we have a project that has been blessed by the people of the town and the town,” Knobel said.
Wiessner said the “special development district” used to approve the project was an end-run around the town’s building rules.
The special district allows for greater height and size in exchange for “public amenities,” such as the bowling alley, the public plaza, the street improvements and public art.
In the case of Solaris, the special district allows four times the condo space that would normally be permitted.
“It’s a slippery slope,” Wiessner said. “The process should be honored.”
He also said the proposal was “rammed through” without gaining consensus from the council. “A good developer won’t try to just get the bare minimum,” he said.
But Wiessner said he isn’t opposed to having amenities such as a bowling alley.
Fritch, owner of the Sitzmark Lodge and a Vail resident for 32 years, also said the proposal is too big.
“I think that it’s a major shift in the appeal of the Vail,” he said. “And I think that we need to realize that this is going in a different direction than what has attracted people to Vail for so long.”
Steinberg and Fritch were also members of a petitioners’ committee that sought a vote on the proposed conference center last year. The council decided on its own to put a do-or-die vote on the ballot, and the conference center proposal was shot down by voters in November.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or email@example.com.
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