Vail Town Council to hear Booth Heights appeals Tuesday
East Vail workforce housing plan has been controversial since 2017 rezoning request
VAIL — This town’s most controversial issue in years may be resolved Tuesday.
The Vail Town Council has scheduled four hours at its regular meeting to hear appeals concerning the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission’s Aug. 26 approval of the Booth Heights housing proposal.
That proposal would put 61 units on a 5.4-acre parcel just north of the Interstate 70 interchange at East Vail. The unit mix includes 30 deed-restricted apartments, 19 deed-restricted for-sale townhomes and 12 free-market townhomes.
The parcel is currently owned by Vail Resorts, but Vail-based Triumph Development has a contract to purchase the land.
After correcting an error in the county records — the parcel’s ownership for decades was mistakenly attributed to the Colorado Department of Transportation — Vail Resorts in 2017 asked the Vail Town Council to rezone the 23.3-acre parcel. The original zoning allowed for building duplex units on the parcel. The change split the parcel into two zone districts, with 17.9 acres in the town’s “natural area preservation” area and 5.4 acres in the town’s “housing” zone district.
The housing zone district allows a mix of deed-restricted and free-market units. The free-market units — which much be no more than 30% of any project’s total gross residential floor area — are allowed in housing districts to essentially subsidize deed-restricted units.
Triumph submitted the current proposal after the Vail Town Council in March rejected a proposal for the town to buy the parcel. Triumph returned several weeks later with a proposal that company officials say complies with the requirements of the housing zone district.
The proposal has its supporters, who cite the town’s need for workforce housing. But since the first rezoning proposal critics have expressed concern about the bighorn sheep herd that uses the area north of I-70 as winter range.
The herd was a key element of opposition to the rezoning proposal and has been a central element of opposition to the development proposal.
After the town’s planning board approved the proposal, council members on Sept. 3 voted 4-3 against a motion to hear the appeal.
In the wake of that decision, the only avenue for a town council review was through citizen appeals. In all, 22 citizen appeals were filed. Of those, seven were found to have standing. An appeals hearing was then set for Tuesday.
Here’s how the hearing of the appeals will work:
- Each appellant will have 10 minutes to present evidence, witness testimony and other information. Appellants can pool their time.
- The project applicant then has 70 minutes to present evidence, witnesses and other information.
- Town staff can respond to or supplement evidence presented by both appellants and the applicant.
- After the presentations, the council will allow “limited” public comment. Each individual will be limited to three minutes.
- The council at any time can call a brief recess to review evidence.
- The council can continue the hearing to another date — the next scheduled meeting is Nov. 5. — but the hearing must be complete before Nov. 19, when the next town council is sworn in. There will be at least one new member — current member Greg Moffet is leaving due to term limits — but as many as four new members could be chosen in the Nov. 5 election.
- The decision for or against the appeals will be made by voice vote and requires a simple majority.
According to an email from Vail Community Development Department Director Matt Gennett, the council can take one of three actions:
- Uphold the planning board decision.
- Uphold, with modifications.
- Overturn the decision.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.