Vail files petition in condemnation for East Vail parcel

The town also filed a motion for immediate possession of the parcel

A judge ruled in favor of the Town of Vail in regards to a Vail Resorts parcel of land. The order punctuates a long dispute between the town and Vail Resorts over a 23-acre parcel in East Vail.
Christopher Dillman/Vail Daily Archive

On Friday, Oct. 14, the town of Vail filed a “petition in condemnation” of the Booth Heights habitat and site in East Vail with the Eagle County District Court, carrying out the next step of condemnation following Vail Resorts’ rejection of its $12 million offer to purchase the land.

“The Town’s acquisition of the Subject Property is necessary in order to preserve the Town’s open space and its wildlife and natural resources for the public welfare and is essential to protect, preserve, and promote the health, safety, welfare, and convenience of the public,” reads the petition.

This marks the town’s next step in acquiring the site by eminent domain, continuing a process that it kicked off in May 2022, when the Town Council voted to condemn the East Vail site. The filing holds that the town “negotiated in good faith” with Vail Resorts, but that “the parties have been unable to reach an agreement on the voluntary acquisition of the Subject Property prior to the filing of this condemnation action.”

“Further negotiations at this time would be futile,” it reads.

Negotiations were halted in early October with Vail Resorts’ rejection of the town’s $12 million offer to purchase the land.

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In his response to the offer, Bill Rock, Vail Resorts’ executive vice president and chief operating officer of its mountain division, remained steadfast that the corporation “does not believe that condemnation of an approved affordable housing project is warranted or appropriate.”

With the $12 million offer off the table, it will be up to the court to determine the amount the town will pay to Vail Resorts for the property.

While the town did set aside $12 million from its real-estate transfer tax fund for the purpose of this acquisition, it also created a fund for community members to contribute toward the ultimate amount decided by the courts.

Also on Oct. 14, the town also filed a motion with the Eagle County District Court for immediate possession of the East Vail parcel. The motion states — similarly to the petition in condemnation — that “the town needs to acquire immediate possession of the Subject Property for the Open Space in a timely manner for the preservation of the health, safety, welfare and convenience of the public.”

If granted, the motion would allow the town to obtain possession of the property during the proceedings, subject to a deposit with the court. The motion states that the court must determine the deposit required and “may hold a hearing for that purpose or may rule on the basis of affidavits that provide evidence of the probable amount of the compensation that will be awarded to the landowner.”

These represent the most recent filings with the district court over this parcel of land, as Vail Resorts’ filed a complaint with the court in September, accusing the town of improper use of an emergency ordinance process. The town had invoked this emergency ordinance in August to place a moratorium on new permits on the site.

According to a statement provided by a Vail Resorts’ spokesperson, the corporation’s goal was “never to end up in court.”

“Our goal has always been to bring more affordable housing to our community,” it continued.

During the afternoon session of Town Council on Tuesday, Oct. 18, Mayor Kim Langmaid expressed a desire for council members and the town to be more vocal about its progress on housing.

“People are always happy to hear a little more clarification and I don’t think they realize that we are building a replacement project over here with the Residences at Main Vail, we’re full steam ahead with the re-development of Timber Ridge on the docket, and development of West Middle Creek,” she said, adding that she’s received encouragement “for the town to have more of a voice to educate the community a bit more in terms of what we are doing with housing and how’re we’re addressing the issue that Booth Heights may be doing in terms of housing.”

“Vail Resorts was hopeful that this current Vail Town Council would view the East Vail Affordable Housing Project as a big step towards alleviating our community’s housing crisis, just like the Town Councils before them. We remain committed to the six years of close collaboration that went into this project, as well as the associated environmental investments that directly benefit Vail’s big horn sheep herd,” read the statement from Vail Resorts.

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