Letter: Booth Heights development doesn’t reflect Vail brand
Walking the East Vail parcel and hearing the presentation by Triumph Development, I was increasingly concerned about several details. Application documents and the environmental impact, geologic and rockfall hazard reports expose troubling issues. Landslide, rockfall and debris flow studies on the parcel, including the 5.4 acres proposed for development, deserve detailed examination. For example:
- Ex2 Environmental Impact Report, 2.3.2: “The TOV’s official Rockfall Hazard Map indicates all of the project site mapped as a High Severity Rockfall Zone.” The geologic hazards include debris flows, rockfall, and an existing landslide.”
Upslope of the building site “rockfall source zones have potential to impact the site and future planned development. Rockfall or severe debris flows can occur through natural processes including freeze-thaw, intense prolonged precipitation, rapid snowmelt, or “modifications to the existing natural condition,” which may “increase debris flow susceptibility.” A mitigation berm “will reduce, but not eliminate rockfall and debris flow hazards in the development area.”
- Ex5a Geologic Hazards Analysis, 4.3: “The landslide deposits on the site are considered to be ancient and inactive. A historic landslide about 1.5 miles west of the EVP was re-activated by undercutting of the toe for construction of I-70. That landslide involved Minturn Formation bedrock, which underlies the East Vail Parcel. Contributing landslide susceptibility factors in the project area include “over-steepening or undercutting of the slopes by natural processes or human activities, deforestation, removal of vegetative cover, and elevated water content by intense, prolonged rainfall or rapid snowmelt.”
An existing landslide occupies the eastern 18 acres of the EVP, offered for Natural Area Preservation. The report states “Ground modifications and development around these ancient landslides increase the potential for re-activation and re-mobilization of the landslide mass …” Since the 5.4 acres being developed “extend up to the limits of the steep western flank of the landslide…” the report recommends “avoiding development within or near the mapped landslide extents. Site improvements and regrading near the toe of the landslide may re-activate slope movement and should be avoided.”
Aesthetically, the mass and scope of the proposed apartment buildings do not reflect anything in the neighborhood in size, density, or frontage road proximity. Comparison to Timber Ridge and Lion’s Ridge in West Vail is also questionable regarding access to services. Those tenants can walk to major grocery chains, restaurants, shops, the post office, banks, a laundromat, and other services on a paved walkway. They can walk to Lionshead utilizing the pedestrian overpass. Tenants of the EVP project could walk to Sim’s Market via an underpass unsuitable for pedestrians. Access to anything else requires a car or multiple bus rides.
How, after the town of Vail is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars beautifying the East Vail entrance, does this proposed development reflect the Vail brand? Instead of beautiful green space with grazing bighorn sheep, a visitor’s first view of Vail will be an enormous, hulking housing project.