Vail Open Lands Plan update will unearth ownership of some parcels in town |

Vail Open Lands Plan update will unearth ownership of some parcels in town

Town officials working to update the 1994 Vail Open Lands Plan were uncertain who owns the outlined parcel in this photo. As it turns out, the pond used to be owned by a now-defunct sanitation district and is now owned by a corporation of 38 neighboring homeowners.
Town of Vail Open Lands Plan

What’s next?

The Vail Town Council will further examine environmentally sensitive open lands in town at its Tuesday, July 17 meeting. The hearing is one of several scheduled as the council looks to update the 1994 Open Lands Plan.

VAIL — Vail’s relatively brief history doesn’t mean it’s simple. There are still a number of parcels in town with uncertain ownership.

That seems to be the case as town officials work to update the 1994 Vail Open Lands Plan.

The Vail Town Council at its Tuesday, July 3 meeting took a tour of 16 parcels that have been identified as “environmentally sensitive.” The plan will include recommendations on what town officials might do with those parcels. Options range from leaving the parcels as is to town purchase.

Many of the identified parcels may be left alone. Those parcels either have limited or no access, are in identified floodplain or riparian areas or lie in identified rockfall or avalanche zones. Others are simply too steep for building to ever take place.

East Vail Parcel

But a parcel in East Vail is different. It’s a flat parcel of just more than two acres, most of which holds a small pond.

In the draft plan update, that parcel is identified as once being owned by the Bighorn Mutual Sanitation and Recreation District. That district served the surrounding neighborhood before the area was annexed into the town of Vail in the 1970s. It was dissolved after the it was linked to the town’s water and sewer systems.

It turns out that the district lives on in a way. After the district was dissolved, ownership of the parcel fell to a corporation comprised of between 38 and 40 owners of nearby property.

Kathryn Benysh is one of those owners. At Tuesday’s meeting, she asked the council to remove the parcel from the lands plan update.

Benysh said owners have been “outstanding stewards” in the time they’ve owned it. Owners have maintained the land, and allowed town officials to use it as needed.

“There’s never been any inclination or desire to sell or develop the property,” Benysh told council members. “There’s no need to need to change the status quo.”

Given that a majority of owners would need to approve any changes to the parcel’s use, Benysh told council members it would be difficult to change the current use.

Town officials will take a more detailed look into the ownership and potential use of the 16 identified parcels at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, July 17.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at and 970-748-2930.

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