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Vail Resorts officials on Tuesday night issued the above map and following statement after a meeting of the Vail Town Council that saw council members vote 4-3 to begin condemnation proceedings on a parcel of Vail Resorts’ land in East Vail slated for affordable housing:
Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek Resort employees were joined by members of the community at the Vail Town Council tonight – in force – in support of critically needed affordable housing in East Vail. Vail Resorts is committing $17 million to bring 165 desperately needed beds to the community. As you will see in the attached remarks from Beth Howard and the accompanying documents, it is unfair that members of the Vail Town Council continue to oppose this already approved affordable housing project, while they support building luxury homes in the same area.
Statement: Tonight, a divided Vail Town Council voted to begin steps in pursuing condemnation of the property that the Town Council previously approved for affordable housing. On behalf of all of the hard working employees in Vail, we appreciate the three Vail Town Council members who opposed moving forward on drafting a resolution. We remain hopeful that the Vail Town Council will make the right decision and not try to block this shovel-ready affordable housing project. Vail needs housing now – not development that might happen in 5 years. If the Town can support luxury homes in East Vail, then it can support affordable housing. We will continue to aggressively pursue this affordable housing project for the hard-working employees in our community.
These prepared remarks by Beth Howard, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Vail Mountain, were read to the Vail Town Council on April 19, 2022:
Good evening. I’m Beth Howard, Chief Operating Officer of Vail Mountain. Thank you for giving
me some time to address the council.
I certainly recognize this is a difficult topic, but personally, as someone who oversees an operation
of thousands of employees and cares deeply about the team members who keep our community
going – I am optimistic about bringing this affordable housing project, with 165 beds for hard
working individuals, to life in the fall of 2023.
I was disappointed, and saddened for our community of employees to see that condemnation of
the East Vail affordable housing parcel was on your agenda today. I, along with many of the Eagle
County resort employees present and in spirit today, urge you not to condemn this parcel and to
allow it to move forward as planned.
I urge the Council to do the right thing and support our community of workers. We are in a crisis. We all know it, read about it; see it and live it.
There is an urgent need for this project now, more now than ever before.
We cannot wait because maybe there will be an alternative five years down the road –
because then someone else won’t like it and then we are right back here in this room, with
the same crisis before us today.
We must address this crisis now if Vail is to continue to be Vail. This project was approved by the Vail Town Council in 2019.
It went through extensive environmental review – more than any other project of its kind and in this area in East Vail.
It went to state court– was tested again – and still approved.
We understand there are newly elected representatives on the Town Council, but the community must trust that the Town Council respects and lives up to the decisions of prior councils or there is no continuity for people and businesses to rely upon.
Just like I, as COO of Vail Mountain, respect and live up to the decisions of my predecessors. Why would we, as a Town, move to condemn affordable housing in the sheep range but not move to condemn all the luxury homes built, and some being built right now, in the sheep winter range? You must answer that question for the community before you condemn. I want to highlight with a map exactly what I am talking about.
Here is a map of the area in East Vail. This is a map from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife this week, which defines the sheep range reflected in blue.
You can see here on the left all the housing development – in the sheep range. You cannot ignore there are many homes in the sheep range.
The fact is, there was a recent home developed in 2021 and currently one under construction.
Here you can see the large 17 acres that Vail Resorts donated and protected as habitat.
And down here, with the yellow boxes mostly outside of the sheep range, you can see the affordable housing project.
Is the Town here today to condemn all of these properties? At the same time that the Town has been actively working to block the affordable housing project, the Town has permitted the construction of luxury 5,000 square foot homes in the bighorn sheep range.
None of these homes performed an environmental review like we did for our project.
None of these homes funded habitat improvement for the sheep like we did for our project.
None of these homes have an extensive environmental mitigation plan like our project.
And perhaps most telling, none of these projects faced backlash and condemnation from local
homeowners or the Vail Town Council.
Why do the sheep only become an issue when the project being proposed is affordable housing?
This map will be made public and we should all ask: why these homes and not affordable housing?
How will opponents speaking today respond – I encourage any and all speakers who reside in this area –point to your house and explain why your house is OK, but affordable housing is not.
Look at the employees in the room, my team members, and tell them they can’t live in East Vail, while many live in luxury homes right in the heart of the sheep’s territory.
East Vail should be for everyone. Please do the right thing.
We have a housing crisis now.
We have a project for 165 beds ready to go now.
We need employees now.
If not now, when? If not here, where?