Vail rejects Middle Creek appeal
Acting as Vail’s highest review authority, the seven members of the Town Council rejected an appeal of the $23 million project, upholding a lower review board’s approval in a set of three votes.
“I’m thrilled,” said Denver-based developer Mike Coughlin, who was selected by the Vail Local Housing Authority a year ago to plan a financially sound project that would provide what proponents of Middle Creek say is a much-needed affordable housing in Vail, where the average home sells for half a million dollars.
“I’m glad that we got the result that we did. It’s been a very long, grueling process,” Coughlin said.
The appeal, which alleges Middle Creek will depress property values and lower adjacent property owners’ quality of life, as well as lead to traffic and natural-hazard problems, was filed by eight Vail property owners and three Vail businesses Oct. 3.
With their vote Friday, Town Council members validated a Sept. 23 decision by the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.
The seven-member planning commission at that time had approved the project’s development plan, as well as a conditional-use permit for a child care center and the subdivision of the 25-acre hillside parcel.
Council members Dick Cleveland and Diana Donovan opposed the subdivision, as well as the development plan. On the latter they were joined by fellow-councilman Rod Slifer. All three said the project is too dense, unsuitable for the location and has been awarded too many deviances from the town’s building standards in order to keep it affordable.
“I believe cramming our working class together on one site is bad and is not encouraged by our guidelines,” said Donovan.
Slifer said he would support a smaller project that is less noticeable and less stressful on town roads and roundabouts – a concern repeatedly reiterated by the appellants, represented by Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association.
Lamont told council members that approving the project now, because of “some arbitrary deadline based on financing” would be premature and could have wide-ranging negative consequences, ranging from rockfall threatening the safety of children to Middle Creek residents overwhelming the roundabouts on their way to work.
Lamont told the council in his closing arguments the appellants would prefer additional time to make room for an amicable solution to the many problems of Middle Creek “so we don’t end up down in Eagle (County Court) but we end up here in the these council chambers with you mediating for a solution.”
Referring to a recent jury verdict ordering a Vail property owner to pay $8 million in damages for delaying a new hotel development with a series of lawsuits, Town Councilman Greg Moffet said the appellants should weigh their options carefully.
“I hope the court’s last decision will prevent a repeat of the same kind of conclusion,” he said.
Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 602 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.