Vail’s Booth Heights proposal still needs one approval
Project needs approval from the Vail Design Review Board; work could begin in June 2020
- 30 deed-restricted apartments.
- 19 deed-restricted townhomes.
- 12 free-market townhomes.
VAIL — When the Vail Town Council on Tuesday night upheld an Aug. 26 Planning and Environmental Commission decision to approve a housing project in East Vail, it cleared the way for a final town approval, and more work.
The project has one final town approval hurdle to cross, with the Vail Design Review Board.
Michael O’Connor is the chief operating officer of Vail-based Triumph Development. That company has a contract with landowner Vail Resorts to purchase the property once town approvals are secured. O’Connor said Wednesday his company is now working on drawings to bring to the town’s design board.
That could take a little time, O’Connor said.
“With the appeal, we haven’t made any progress on (specific designs),” O’Connor said. “We’ll start working on that right away.”
With the need to get approval for the project’s design, it will still be months before any heavy construction work starts on the site.
O’Connor said the timing of the council decision works pretty well for Triumph. The company agreed to a schedule that only allows heavy work — excavation and the like — from June through mid-November. That schedule was imposed so the bighorn sheep herd that uses the area around Booth Heights as winter range can move to its warm-weather range.
Other work required
In addition to Design Review Board approval for architecture and landscaping, Vail Senior Planner Jonathan Spence wrote in an email that Triumph will also have to earn approval for a ramp to the nearby town bus stop. That ramp must meet the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Spence wrote that approval will require a variance from the town because of the height of proposed retaining walls on the side.
Spence added that the Triumph must also comply with the conditions of approval imposed by the planning board.
In addition, Triumph must also do studies and evaluations “by qualified professionals” regarding possible geological hazards at the site.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, several people expressed their concerns about possible geological hazards on the site.
Penny Turilli, one of the seven residents who appealed the planning board decision, said she’s concerned about the prospect of future rockfall incidents in the area. In June 2018 a large rock landed in a home’s bedroom window in East Vail, Turilli said.
During the hearing, O’Connor noted that rockfall danger at the site has been “adequately, appropriately addressed.”
People at Tuesday’s meeting also talked extensively about the sheep herd in the area.
Resident John Ervin even brought in a recording of a song recorded by a friend, imploring the town to “leave the sheep alone.”
Is this really it?
With Tuesday’s decision, it’s also time to start work on a mitigation plan. Triumph has pledged $100,000 to fund efforts in the area around the building site.
O’Connor said there are town-sponsored efforts in the area, and Triumph’s obligation to supply money is due on April 15, 2020.
But two council members who voted against upholding the planning board’s decision hope the project can still be stopped.
After the council’s Tuesday vote, council member Kim Langmaid said she’d like to schedule a future discussion about a possible town purchase of the property, as well as future discussions with Vail Resorts on options to build workforce housing in town. Langmaid in 2018 spearheaded an effort to evaluate the prospect of building housing on a parcel just west of the existing Middle Creek apartments. That review determined building housing on that site is possible, if complicated.
On Wednesday, council member Jen Mason, who also voted to deny the approval, said she’d also like to prevent development on the Booth Heights parcel.
“I hope we can negotiate a deal with them,” Mason said.
O’Connor said he hopes the remaining work to get to groundbreaking day offers less drama than the proposal has seen so far.
“We’re building locals’ housing,” he said.
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