Special deal for Crossroads?

Jim Lamont
Special to the Daily

January 11, 2006

This is the first installment from the Vail Village Homeowners Association's 2005 Annual Long Report to the association's membership and constituencies. The full report can be obtained on the association's Web site at www.vailhomeowners.com

Crossroads redevelopment: A proposal to redevelop the Crossroads complex in Vail Village was withdrawn by the developer from consideration by Vail Town Council in August. The Town Council at that time was opposed (4-3) to the project. The proposal will again be submitted in December for reconsideration.

It is the perception of some observers that developer activism in the recent Town Council election may have reversed the earlier split vote of the council so that the proposed project would now receive approval.

The association favors the redevelopment of Crossroads, but has been unable to forge a compromise between the developer and adjacent property owners who objected to the height, site plan and density of the proposal.

Likewise, the association remains to be convinced that the project is in full compliance with the spirit and intent of the town of Vail's development regulations which apply equitably to all property owners in the same or similar circumstances as it applies to impact fees and the like.There are significant differences between the proposal, the Vail Village Master Plan, and the underlying zoning. A nearby condominium project, with similar disparities, was required to first amend the master plan and underlying zoning through the public review process.

The dispute arises because the project is exempt from the scrutiny involved with the amendment procedures as it is a proposed special development district (SDD). Disputes over interpretation and exemptions give the appearance the SDD is being improperly used as a grant of special privilege.

The association advocates the consistent and equitable enforcement of zoning regulations and planning procedures upon all property owners that share the same or comparable zoning benefits.

Applying a likewise comparison to impact fees, the Crossroads developer has thus far not successfully demonstrated that his project contributes its fair share to adequately offset the long-term effects upon public infrastructure. Impact fees and the valuation of other claimed public amenities should be uniformly assessed of all new development. Public benefits that are represented as public amenities do not release the developers from placing them under the control or ownership of the town of Vail.

The demonstration of public benefits also does not release the developer from paying impact fees that should be ranked in accord with their relative importance to the public welfare, beginning with public safety and ending with public art.

The purpose of the impact fees and public amenities is to relieve business and property owners from an increased tax burden for upgrading the community's infrastructure and the like resulting from development. All proposed contractual agreements must be made available to the public prior to the project proceeding through the public review process, not at the end.

Such was not the case in the previous proceeding and was partially responsible for the rejection of the proposal.

Jim Lamont was the town of Vail's first director of community development (1972-77). The executive director of the Vail Village Homeowners Association is a professional town planner and has been involved in most aspects of Vail's development during his career.

Vail, Colorado