Vail approves new housing rules
VAIL – Mark Gordon said it was a great night for Vail.”This is really amazing,” he said.Vail was setting the stage for the reversal of the downvalley flight of residents and ensuring that the town remains a community – not simply a resort – he said.”Tonight we’re going to lay the foundation for Vail’s true renaissance,” he said.Even with last-minute protests from real-estate agents and property owners, the Vail Town Council approved stricter employee-housing requirements for developers Tuesday, saying that was the first step in the town’s efforts to keep workers in Vail.”I think we’re making a really, really important step for our town,” said Councilwoman Kim Newbury. “I’m passionate about it.”Under the new laws, 10 percent of new-home projects must be affordable housing. Also, developers of commercial space must provide housing for 20 percent of the new jobs they create.The laws apply only in dense areas such as Vail Village, Lionshead and the West Vail mall area.The employee homes could be rented or sold with a deed restriction. Developers could also pay a fee to meet the requirements.Tuesday’s vote capped almost a year of deliberation over how much affordable housing Vail needs and how to get it. The proposed requirements were lessened earlier this year after an outcry from developers.Steve Lindstrom of the Vail Local Housing Authority said the town lags behind other resorts on the issue of housing.”We’re really a leader in the whole resort industry except when it comes to housing,” he said.The new rules are a good step toward improving Vail’s housing efforts, he said.Asher Maslan of the Vail Board of Realtors said real estate agencies are unfairly burdened by the rules, which are based on a “nexus” survey that says real estate offices create more jobs than other kinds of businesses.”We view it as very, very unfair,” he said.Rick Mueller, a property owner, said Vail doesn’t have enough direction for its housing efforts beyond this “first step.”The redevelopment of the Timber Ridge complex will be another step that will help Vail house more employees, said Councilman Kent Logan. The Texas developer who wants to rebuild the Lionshead parking structure has a proposal that would double the number of beds there.”The biggest single dent we can put in this is with Timber Ridge,” Logan said.Projects already approved in Vail will add 1,500 jobs, and development in Avon and Edwards will add another 7,370 jobs in the next few years, town officials say. Meanwhile, more and more homes are being bought by second-home owners and retirees. By 2020, almost every worker who lives in Vail will live in some type of affordable housing, according to town projections.Town Council members have set a goal of keeping 30 percent of Vail’s workers living in town.====================By the numbers32: Percentage of homes in Vail owned by local residents.22: Percentage of homes in Vail built in 2005 owned by local residents.$67,200: Median income for area.”Virtually” none: Number of homes in Vail’s housing market that are affordable to households earning less than 140 percent of the area median income.Source: Ordinance No. 8, Series of 2007, Town of Vail.====================Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.