Vail Daily column: Fiddling with open spaces
November 25, 2016
The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
Vail is blessed with generous open spaces, both within and surrounding the town. That is part of Vail's charm, and it is no accident that it exists. It was part of the original vision for the community, one that was protected by restrictive covenants that pre-dated the formation of the town of Vail. That vision also informed the original zoning when the town was formed in 1966. Now 50 years later, that vision may be at risk by proposals that are working their way forward on the Town Council agenda, some with astonishing speed. They are: One, plans to acquire and develop currently open space U.S. Forest Service land; two, the possible use of the Donovan Park Middle Bench for affordable housing; and, three, a plan to develop a private lodge on Hanson Ranch Road where the developer seeks to acquire and use Tract E open space. All three of these proposals run head-on into decades of community commitment to avoid the conversion of open space for development or private ownership.
At a recent Town Council meeting, it came to light that many months ago the town of Vail initiated consideration of acquiring Forest Service land for the purpose of building affordable housing for local residents. Apparently, the town of Vail has concluded that there is insufficient available land within the town to adequately address affordable housing. In keeping with long-standing town policy to provide housing within the town's boundaries, the town of Vail is apparently seeking to increase its borders so that more affordable housing can be developed.
As a first step, a study was commissioned by a prominent land acquisition firm, and it has now been completed. The study evaluated the feasibility of 11 Forest Service parcels distributed throughout the community along the town's boundary. As a result, it was recommended that the town select three or so sites for acquisition and development. Two of the more prominent areas in the study are:
• The area to the east of Potato Patch is one of the parcels, which could be expanded because it has similar topographic characteristics that could make it desirable for even more development.
• Three of the parcels are located on the slopes above the Matterhorn and Highland Meadow neighborhoods in West Vail, south and west of Donovan Park, which if consolidated, would create a significant housing development opportunity.
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The town of Vail is moving very quickly with the process to acquire the parcels it selects. The council has already conducted site visits to narrow the choices, although the selected locations have not yet been publicly revealed.
If these issues concern you, then get informed and become involved. Government responds to the public; silence only enables those who would seek to profit in the absence of accountability. Join the Vail Homeowners Association in shining a spotlight on issues that concern everyone.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.
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