Vail Daily column: Neighbors want their peace
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
Errant golf balls, a critical safety problem or convenient excuse? In turning down the Vail Recreation District’s request for a delay, members of the Town Council said they were acting expeditiously to alleviate threats to public safety from errant golf balls. Saying that they had no choice but to approve the relocation work and commence construction immediately. The rec district directors said there was no immediacy of impending threat because the same or similar conditions had existed for the past 40 years. They wanted sufficient time to find other remedies to the alleged safety issue.
On this point, the plaintiffs from the neighborhood in the course of a recent court proceeding provided testimony from a golf course safety consultant that refuted the town’s safety claims, which had been based upon an analysis provided by another safety expert. The plaintiffs have provided an affidavit from a golf safety consultant, who challenges the validity of the methodology used by the town’s expert.
The neighborhood’s consultant concluded that there was no abnormal safety issue, saying, “While any golf course presents a certain degree of risk from errant shots, in my opinion, the safety risk associated with approach shots to the existing 18th green is very reasonable and well within standard industry practices. While nothing necessarily needs to be done at this time, there are some relatively inexpensive steps the VRD could take to reduce the existing risks from approach shots.”
In the weeks prior to the council’s decision to proceed, a third-party effort was mounted in the hopes of initiating discussions to find common ground in resolving the litigation between the neighborhood plaintiffs and the town. There was a brief period of interest, but the town’s attorneys were dismissive, causing the initiative to collapse.
The plaintiffs proceeded with their litigation in the Eagle County District Court to seek a preliminary injunction to temporarily block construction on the relocation of the 18th green. The court dismissed the injunction request, concluding that the plaintiffs did not have “standing” based upon the manner in which the town acquired ownership of the golf course in the early 1980s during the first Slifer mayoral administration.
The court ruling on the 18th green temporary injunction did not stop the neighbors continued litigation over the uses and other aspects of the golf clubhouse redevelopment. Each side is preparing briefs to be submitted to the judge in early October on the central issues in the neighbors’ case.
Neighbors want their peace, quiet and pleasant landscape — not noisy revelers and traffic congestion. Neighboring property owners are seeking to protect the peacefulness of their residential neighborhood. They have a substantial emotional and financial investment in their homes, which they fear is being jeopardized by the town’s proposed commercial event center. Neither the town of Vail nor the Vail Recreation District have allayed neighborhood concerns over traffic congestion and the disruptive behavior that could adulterate the safety and peacefulness of their residential neighborhood. They seek a redevelopment that is compatible and values the qualities of their residential neighborhood.