Vail open space holdings may get boost via large donation
The first step in adding significant acreage to the town’s inventory of designated open space has taken place following approval by the Vail Town Council of a resolution accepting donation of a large parcel to be preserved as open space. The 48.13-acre parcel is in East Vail on the south side of Bighorn Road off Willow Way and is owned by a Houston, Texas, resident.
The property is currently zoned agricultural and open space and has been used for years as a trail loop by neighboring residents. Most recently, a developer was attempting to gain access from adjacent town-owned property and build on the parcel.
As specified in a unanimously approved vote by the council Dec. 17, the donation will only be completed if the appraised value of the property is deemed to be sufficient by the owner.
If the appraisal is satisfactory, ownership will be transferred to the town. Then, the Vail Designated Open Space Committee will convene, representing the town manager, a member of the Planning and Environmental Commission and a town council member, to recommend designating the property as designated open space per the Vail Town Charter. If the property is given a designated open space designation, the charter requires a vote of 75 percent of registered voters to overturn. To date, no properties have been proposed for reversal of this designation.
The town currently owns 57 properties of designated open space, totaling 533 acres. The last open space designation was made in 2005. This newest property was specifically identified as Action Item 21 in the Comprehensive Open Lands Plan, with the intent to protect environmentally sensitive land from development through acquisition or conservation easement.
“This property represents a nearly 10 percent increase in the town’s open space and contains critical riparian area and wildlife habitat,” said Kristen Bertuglia, the town’s director of environmental sustainability. “The town is extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with the owner to preserve this property into perpetuity.”
Gore Creek since 2013 has been listed on the state’s list of “impaired waterways.” Several years of work are paying off, but getting off the list has become more difficult.