Vail re-visits open lands plan | VailDaily.com

Vail re-visits open lands plan

VAIL — Officials here are working on an update to the town's 22-year-old open lands plan. But that work is in its fairly early stages, and still some time away from approval.

Before the Vail Town Council on Tuesday heard an update about the planning process, Mayor Dave Chapin responded to public comments he had read and heard before the meeting. In the wake of a Nov. 15 council visit to a handful of U.S. Forest Service parcels that could conceivably be used for workforce housing, many of those comments have claimed town officials are working on the plan in secret.

"We will heavily involve the public," Chapin said. "This council is only looking to strengthen (the existing) plan."

The current open lands plan was adopted in 1994, and town officials believe it's time for an update. The original plan governs open space, trails and other un-built areas of town.

With the plan still in the study phase, consultant Tom Braun said the schedule includes a pair of public meetings. One would be in late December, so second-home owners can participate if they're in town for the Christmas holidays. The next meeting is expected to take place in early to mid-January.

More Expertise Needed?

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While town planners are looking at possible future uses and protective measures for the open lands in and adjacent to the town, council member Kim Langmaid asked to bring more expertise to the process. She recommended bringing in water quality experts and seeking advice from state wildlife officials. She also asked the town's environmental quality team to weigh in on the plan.

Noting the changes in town during the past two decades, Langmaid said new thinking is needed.

"What are we going to do about the Booth Falls trailhead? What we thought about then in terms of ecological resilience isn't up to date," Langmaid said.

The plan is expected to see Town Council approval in 2017.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.