Vail Homeowners Association: Vail Resorts’ workforce housing problematic
Editor’s note: This column, originally posted on Friday, Aug. 18, contained errors that have since been corrected by the Vail Homeowners Association. The revised column has been republished below. A written response from Vail Resorts can be found here.
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 Resorts’ proposed workforce housing: Vail Resorts has announced a workforce housing project in East Vail. On the north side of Interstate 70 and the frontage road, between Vail Mountain School and the East Vail exit, Vail Resorts owns 23.3 acres that is currently zoned Two-Family Residential (or duplex housing). At the present, this is vacant land that has indications of being a major wildlife corridor.
Vail Resorts has now announced that it is going to seek to rezone the property so that the western 5.4 acres can be used for employee housing. The remainder (17.9 acres) would be rezoned as Natural Area Preservation land but would remain under Vail Resorts’ ownership, and there would be nothing to prevent Vail Resorts from later seeking to again rezone that property.
The twin lures of affordable housing and open space may be irresistible to town officials — think what has already happened with the Roost Lodge property and the Mountain View development, where provisions for affordable housing have trumped zoning and neighborhood concerns. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that Vail Resorts now seeks to subdivide its property and use part of it to satisfy its workforce housing needs.
Housing zoning would allow much greater development of this land. The current zoning has a maximum height allowance of 33 feet and setback and gross residential floor area limitations (Vail Town Code, 12-6C). Housing zoning has no height limits or prescribed residential floor area requirements (Vail Town Code, 12-6I).
Once Vail Resorts has secured the rezoning, it plans to obtain a developer to plan and build the project. Most, if not all, of the units would be master-leased to Vail Resorts. Any unspoken-for units would presumably be made available to the public. Financing would seem to be assured, as the development is supposed to be part of Vail Resorts’ 2015 commitment to provide $30 million in workforce housing across all its resorts.
• What this could mean: One thing is clear: If a sizable development were to occur, it will change the character of the neighborhood. It will also be one of the first things that visitors coming from the east see as they enter the valley.
Also yet to be addressed is traffic mitigation and the impact of the development on the mass-transit bus routes to East Vail. Adding a significant number of additional potential riders would overwhelm the current schedule.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Directors: Judith Berkowitz, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.