Vail Daily letter: Preserve Cordillera’s character
September 19, 2016
An important, precedent-setting decision is facing the county commissioners regarding the future of the Cordillera community — and indeed all of our communities in Eagle County.
A questionable PUD (planned unit development) interpretation was made this spring by the Eagle County Director of Community Development, authorizing the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera's conversion into a rehabilitation center. The county commissioners must reverse this decision, made behind closed doors, in collusion with the owners and the proposed buyers of the Lodge & Spa, without community knowledge or input.
The interpretation is contrary to the central purpose of the PUD, which is to create and preserve "a planned resort residential community" "supporting the resort residential uses" in the community. The proposed use as a rehab center turns its back on Cordillera residents, excluding them from the facilities, and would significantly change the Cordillera community.
The PUD clause in question was never understood to authorize such a use. It was, by the applicant's own admission, never intended to introduce any "new or additional uses to the Cordillera PUD." Indeed, the very basis of the language of the amended PUD, in 2009, was explicitly intended to not create any new or additional uses. Such a significant change cannot be authorized without transparency in a modification of the PUD through a proper zoning process.
My husband, Richard, and I have owned a home in Cordillera since 2001 and have been committed residents of the Cordillera community and Eagle County for 10 years. The Lodge & Spa amenity was the fundamental premise of our purchase. Richard used the Lodge & Spa as the site for a corporate retreat shortly after it opened. He called me from the balcony outside his room, raving about the scenery, the softly falling snow and the herd of elk in the meadow below him. He was enthusiastic about the Cordillera concept, with the Lodge & Spa as a centerpiece destination and a gathering place for Cordillera residents.
Since then, Cordillera has become a premier resort residential community for families like ours, providing recreational opportunities like hiking, mountain biking and golf. The Lodge & Spa has been a popular venue for weddings, reunions, dining, recreation and spa facilities.
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Richard currently serves on the property owners' board, and was a member in 2009 when the clause upon which the director based his interpretation was added to the PUD. He has provided the commissioners with an affidavit stating that the clause was never remotely contemplated to authorize the conversion of the Lodge & Spa into a single-use venture that would sever the facility from the Cordillera community.
The assurances stated in our land-use documents should be followed and our community should be maintained as "a nearly self-contained, resort residential community" in which all uses will "support the resort residential uses." I urge the county commissioners to preserve the character of Cordillera and trust that they will honor their own commitment to open processes and public debate of important issues affecting our community.
Pamela R. Smith