A plan by Vail Resorts to build workforce housing on about 25 percent of a 23-acre parcel the company owns in East Vail — preserving the vast majority of the property as open space — received an initial zoning change approval Tuesday night from the Vail Town Council.
By a vote of 5-2 (with Kim Langmaid and Jen Mason dissenting), the council agreed to the zoning change that would allow for an undetermined amount of desperately needed employee housing. The change still has to be finalized at an Oct. 3 meeting, and then a full development plan would have to be approved during a lengthy public hearing process.
The plan has met unexpectedly stiff resistance from nearby homeowners, some of whom are concerned about the loss of open space — even though the property is privately owned and can legally be developed with private home sites under its current zoning.
Others say there will be adverse wildlife impacts if the property right along the North Frontage Road and Interstate 70 is developed. Existing development already surrounds the Vail Resorts’ property.
Here’s the Town of Vail press release on Tuesday night’s vote:
The Vail Town Council will consider second reading of an ordinance to rezone a 23.3-acre parcel of land owned by Vail Resorts at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3. The action follows a 5-2 (Langmaid, Mason against) vote to approve first reading of Ordinance No. 13 at the Sept. 19 meeting following a three-hour public hearing. The meeting agenda for the Oct. 3 hearing will be published on Sept. 28 and members of the public are encouraged to attend and offer additional testimony. Evening meetings of the Town Council begin at 6 p.m.
The property is located on the north side of Interstate 70 at the East Vail interchange and is proposed to be rezoned from its current zoning of Two-Family Residential district. The ordinance under consideration by the Town Council would create two distinct zoning classifications – the western portion of the site representing 5.4-acres is proposed to be changed to a new Housing district zoning classification while the eastern portion of the site representing 17.9-acres would be rezoned as Natural Area Preservation district.
The Planning and Environmental Commission reviewed the rezoning application at its meeting on Sept. 11 and voted 6-0 to forward a recommendation of approval to the Town Council, noting the proposal meets the criteria outlined in Section 12-3-7 of the Vail Town Code for a zone district boundary amendment.
No specific development plans or designs have been submitted to the town for any employee housing units on the site. Any future development would require additional review at public hearings with the Planning and Environmental Commission. The architecture, site plan and building materials for any future development proposal would also require review by the Design Review Board. In addition, a development application would initiate the requirement for an environmental impact report, which would include a wildlife habitat assessment as well as an analysis of the geological conditions on the property, including geological hazards.
The Housing zone district allows employee housing units, bicycle and pedestrian paths, communications antennas/equipment and passive outdoor recreation areas, plus other uses that are secondary and incidental to the primary use. The Natural Area Preservation district is one of the most restrictive zone districts in town and limits permitted uses to nature preserves. Conditional uses in the Natural Area Preservation district include equestrian trails, interpretive nature walks, parking (when used in conjunction with a permitted or conditional use), bicycle and pedestrian paths, picnic tables and informal seating areas.
Town ordinances require two readings before Town Council for adoption. These meetings are live streamed at www.highfivemedia.org/ and are cablecast on channel 5.