Town Council questions Ever Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Does the town of Vail want or need a new gondola onto Vail Mountain, new retail shops, another hotel, more real estate and new traffic patterns in town?
That’s the question some Vail Town Council members brought up at Tuesday’s work session meeting in relation to Vail Resorts’ proposed Ever Vail project, which would add such things to the town as well as more parking, space for the Vail Recreation District, space for children’s ski school and other amenities.
Councilman Andy Daly is concerned the town is moving too fast with the Ever Vail application, which is set to go before the town’s Planning and Environmental Commission on Monday. If the commission makes any decisions at that meeting, it could move the project forward, Daly said.
Daly said the town was going at “a very high rate of speed at embracing” something that would dramatically change parking, mountain base areas, retail and more. He said it’s the council’s role to make sure they’ve done the due diligence to determine the impacts of the project.
Vail Community Development Director George Ruther said the planning commission is in the same boat as the council – that both groups will likely want more information as details are presented and the project won’t move at lightning speed.
Ruther said the town is in the process of hiring its own consultant to look over Ever Vail’s impacts to the town’s retail shops, parking and traffic patterns, among other things.
“We may have to change the rate of the pace for the Ever Vail process because of (the new consultant),” Ruther said.
Vail Resorts Development Company spokeswoman Kristin Williams said Vail Resorts supports the town hiring its own consultant. Developers have estimated revenues to the town through things like real estate transfer taxes and construction use taxes, but Ever Vail developers can’t possibly estimate impacts to things like the town’s transit system or public works department, Williams said.
Daly is in no hurry to approve Ever Vail, and neither are Mayor Dick Cleveland and Council members Kevin Foley and Margaret Rogers, based on Tuesday’s meeting.
“The impacts of this project are going to be the most significant of any project the town has ever approved,” Daly said. “Adding a base area will change flows and dynamics within our town – I just want to make sure we have enough time and resources.”
Daly said the impacts of the project on the town have to be defensible, both from a town and Vail Resorts perspective, and that Vail Resorts will have a chance to respond to whatever impacts the town identifies through its consultants.
Town Attorney Matt Mire told council members they could table decisions for as long as necessary until they feel they have enough information to vote on various decisions. The Ever Vail project is broken up into phases and would need several approvals along the way.
Town Manager Stan Zemler said the larger question of whether Ever Vail is good for the town would be answered as the application process continues.
“Ultimately we’ll culminate toward whether a third portal (onto Vail Mountain) makes sense,” Zemler said.
Rogers said she wants to hear more from the community on whether it sees the need for Ever Vail. She said the Town Council needs to put its finger on the pulse of the community on the idea of another portal to Vail Mountain.
“There’s a real possibility that the voters will say ‘we want a ballot on this,'” Rogers said, adding that voters did that with the Solaris project.
The community has been involved in the process for two years, Williams said. Open house meetings have brought in upwards of 100 people every time, she said, and there have been multiple town meetings with public comment periods.
“We absolutely recognize this is the largest application the town has ever reviewed, which is why we’re trying to be as transparent as possible,” Williams said.
Mire said the town can’t tell Vail Resorts, or any developer for that matter, not to apply, but what council members can do is tell them the information they need in order to make a decision. It’s the applicant’s job to persuade members that a project is the right decision, Mire said.
“I’m hearing that there’s four or five of you that need to be persuaded (that Ever Vail) is a good idea,” Mire said.
Williams said she’s been following the town’s recent visioning discussions and feels that Ever Vail meets a lot of the long-term goals the council has set, from parking to transit to job creation to adding community facilities like a grocery store and Vail Recreation District space to town.
“We feel like so many things they’re talking about as priorities, Ever Vail will solve,” Williams said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-748-2983.
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