Workers wait for more housing in Vail
VAIL ” Rodrigo Cortina, whose family wants to redevelop the Lionshead Inn, still has a lot of questions about Vail’s employee housing proposals.
Employee housing is necessary to provide enough workers for businesses, but the rules also have to be fair for developers, he said.
“It can’t be an onerous proposal that’s completely counterproductive to a lot of work the town has done in the last few years to promote revitalization in Vail,” he said.
Even as the Town Council readies to vote on the proposal Tuesday night, Cortina said he needs more answers before he supports the rules.
He wondered how the requirements would keep up with a development as it changes over time ” for example, if store changes from a restaurant to a shop and employs fewer people.
On Monday, the town’s planning commissioners also had lots of questions about the proposals. They voted unanimously not to recommend approval of the housing rules.
“There are a good number of problems,” said Bill Jewitt, a member of the planning commission.
Jewitt said he still has questions about how much housing, what types of housing and the locations of housing that the rules would provide.
“There are some serious flaws in them, but (the Town Council) will find a way to overcome them,” he said.
The new rules would only apply to areas such as Vail Village, Lionshead and the West Vail mall area, where bigger buildings are allowed. Those areas would be subject to a 10 percent “inclusionary zoning” requirement and a 20 percent “commercial linkage” requirement.
Inclusionary zoning calls for a certain percentage of new homes to be affordable. Developers can also pay a fee instead of building the housing. For commercial linkage, developers must build housing for a portion of the jobs they create.
Other neighborhoods in West Vail and East Vail wouldn’t be affected by the new rules.
“It’s a great start,” said Mark Gordon, a councilman who has pushed for more employee housing.
There was input from all parts of the community, not just angry developers, Gordon said.
Other options for employee housing are still on the table, including “buying down” homes to make them deed-restricted and rebuilding the Timber Ridge employee complex, Gordon said.
The council may look at some kind of “residential linkage” later, Gordon said.
The town’s original proposal was met with opposition from local builders, architects and homeowners. The town then lowered the requirements in its proposal.
Greg Cummings, who builds single-family and other smaller residential homes, said he’s glad the council moved away from targeting smaller homes.
“They’re not the ones that are creating the bulk of the jobs,” he said.
Last year, the Town Council passed an emergency measure that held all developments submitted after last November to the new rules, whatever they may be.
The council has until April 15 to pass the new rules.
Council members say they are aiming to create housing for 30 percent of the new jobs that are created in Vail.
Projects that are already approved for Vail will add 1,500 jobs in the next few years, according to the town’s projections. The next wave of redevelopment may add 2,115 jobs in town, officials say.
And new projects in Avon and Edwards will create 7,370 more jobs, officials say.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.