Stalling tactics fail with Crossroads | VailDaily.com
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Stalling tactics fail with Crossroads

Kaye Ferry

Shameful is the only word to describe last Tuesday’ s Town Council work session, at least with item number 5. The discussion on the table was Crossroads.I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out what precipitated this topic making its way to the council at this juncture, as the applicant had just reapplied in December for reconsideration of his project. The first stop on the new quest is the Planning and Environmental Commission, where Crossroads had received a 7-0 approval as recently as April.Keeping that in mind, the wording of the request for discussion was very curious, so I’ll quote for the purpose of clarity: “During the review of the previously submitted Crossroads development applications, matters were raised regarding public benefits and the discrepancy between the underlying CSC zoning and the Vail Village Master Plan recommendations. The staff and the Planning and Environmental Commission are looking for feedback on these and other matters.”In plain English what was up for discussion was whether Crossroads should be allowed to proceed as a special development district as they had for 20 months at staff’s recommendation or the project should be put on hold while the master plan is reviewed and the Crossroads parcel rezoned.Alternative 2, of course, meant that Crossroads would not only be put on hold while the painfully slow wheels of beauracracy determined new zoning but it would then have to start at square one. All after 20 months in the process.I almost don’t know where to start. To begin with, the Planning and Environmental Commission had not made any indication since their approval that they were “looking for feedback.” Quite to the contrary. They labored long and hard before issuing a thumbs up and were as surprised as anybody at the Town Council’s overturn of their recommendation.After the meeting I asked a couple of staff members what caused them to schedule this agenda item. They indicated that because the previous council had raised these questions, they were attempting to get clarification.Interesting. Particularly as in reference to something I mentioned last week. There are two council members missing after the November election, and I don’t think it’s a mystery to anyone why they got their walking papers. And the other two who voted against Crossroads were just lucky nobody got to vote on them or they also would have joined the missing.But at the end of the afternoon, the new balance on the Town Council prevailed and a 5-2 vote (Slifer and Logan against) gave a message, loud and clear: Twenty months into the process is too late to change the rules. Let Crossroads proceed through the process. Period.So what is more curious is what the staff didn’t get: Don’t throw up new road blocks. Don’t make up new rules. That was about as clear as things could have been said Tuesday afternoon.Why then, on Wednesday, just one day later, would Crossroads have been notified that they still would not be allowed to proceed with their scheduled appearance before the PEC on Jan. 9? I guess if they couldn’t find a way to stop them on Jan. 3, they had to find a new way on Jan. 4. This time the ploy was they were being required to provide a model. As they had already submitted a model for their own project, what did this mean? Well, it meant that they were being asked for models of all of the surrounding buildings to be used as reference.Now in and of itself, maybe that’s not completely unreasonable, but keep in mind several things. Once again, it’s 20 months into the process. If this is so important now, why was it not important before? And the PEC has already given their approval, without models of the entire area. Why would the staff assume that the PEC would need this information now?Which leads me to the next question. Why is the staff interjecting itself into this process without direction from a town appointed legal entity, the PEC? It is the PEC’s role to indicate what they do or don’t need to make appropriate decisions.The good news is that some hidden powers intervened and Crossroads meeting with the PEC got back on track. Three staff-generated questions were before them, all of which addressed the need for more information. The answers were “No,” “No” and “No.” The PEC rightfully understands the project that they reviewed for over a year and had no need for more information.And even more importantly, they stressed that they were not going to change the rules and requirements for this project at this stage of the game. Good for them! So next time you see one of your PEC members, give them a high five for standing up to a huge pile of BS.I don’t know what went on to cause this flurry of activity behind the scenes, but I am thrilled that nobody fell for it. I’m also really hard-pressed to believe that on their own, the staff stuck their collective neck out on this two weeks in a row before two separate boards. At the very least it would be overstepping their role.So call me cynical, but I have to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that they were being directed by some other force. Just who that might be is still matter for speculation. But one thing is perfectly clear: This project will be built regardless of manipulation or the threat of lawsuits and petitions. All we can hope is that it happens sooner rather than later. The staff was directed to bring back a document that contains conditions for approval for the Jan. 23 PEC meeting. Yeah! Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail towncouncil@vailgov.com. To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail vailinfo@vailresorts.com. For past columns, go to vaildaily.com and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily.Vail, Colorado


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