Vail Resorts files complaint against Vail in district court alleging misuse of emergency ordinance

Eagle County has been asked to contribute $5 million in open space funds to help the town of Vail's proposed condemnation purchase of a 223-acre site in East Vail.
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Vail Resorts on Tuesday filed a complaint in Eagle County District Court accusing the town of Vail of improper use of the emergency ordinance process in denying permits to the resort developer. Those permits would have aided in the partial development of a 23.3-acre parcel of land which the company owns in East Vail.

The emergency ordinance (Ordinance 16) was passed on Aug. 2 and was intended to preserve the property while the town works to acquire the land through the condemnation process in an effort to prevent high-density development on bighorn sheep habitat in the area.

But Vail Resorts, in the complaint, said the soils testing permit it sought would have, if approved, resulted in no disturbance to the bighorn sheep habitat.

“Vail Resorts engaged a bighorn sheep expert to evaluate whether the soils testing permit would have any impact on the bighorn sheep referenced in Ordinance 16, and she determined that it would not,” according to the complaint. “She was the only bighorn sheep expert who appeared and testified at the hearing on Aug. 2, 2022. She further testified that the Town’s delay until Nov. 1, 2022 to conduct such testing would actually be more problematic for the bighorn sheep than allowing Vail Resorts to move forward now.”

Vail Resorts’ complaint seeks to have Ordinance 16 overturned. In the complaint, Vail Resorts said emergency ordinances should be rare and should only be used to protect the public.

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“But Ordinance 16 does not protect the public at all,” Vail Resorts alleges in the complaint. “Although on the face of Ordinance 16 it purports to prevent irreparable damage to wildlife, including a herd of bighorn sheep, and other natural resources, the actual purpose of the ordinance was relayed by the Town’s attorney, Matt Mire, at the Aug. 2, 2022 hearing. He stated that the Ordinance was necessary for the Town to, in essence, take possession of the Property because the Town’s condemnation case was not yet ready despite the fact the Town Council passed its Resolution to condemn almost three months’ prior and instructed its town attorney to prepare that Resolution almost four months ago.”

Town of Vail spokesperson Kris Widlak said Mire is reviewing the complaint and has not yet had a chance to speak to the town council about it.

Vail Resorts spokesperson John Plack said Vail Resorts did not want to end up in court, and the company’s goal is unchanged.

That goal is “more urgently needed incremental affordable housing in the town of Vail,” Plack said. “However, the town of Vail’s extraordinary and unusual action, and improper use of an Emergency Ordinance, resulted in our court filing on Aug. 30, 2022.”

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