President - Alan Kosloff     Secretary - Ellie Caulkins    Treasurer - Patrick Gramm    Executive Director  -  Jim Lamont

Directors:  Judith Berkowitz  -  Dolph Bridgewater  -  Richard Conn  -  Bob Galvin  -  Ron Langley

Eugene Mercy  -  Bill Morton  -  Trygve Myhren  -  Gretta Parks


To:       Alan Kosloff, Board of Directors, Membership and Interested Parties

            Mayor and Town Council, Design Review Board, Planning and Environmental Commission 

From:   Jim Lamont

Date:    January 8, 2006

RE:      Crossroads Special Development District Application


The VVHA Board of Directors in a statement presented at its Annual Membership Meeting, December 29, 2005, urged the Vail Town Council to follow zoning, covenants, and planning processes so that the approval of the proposed Crossroads project produces a compromise that builds consensus rather than dividing the community.  The statement said, should the Council be unable to form a consensus, that there were those in the community prepared to bring the matter to the voters through a referendum.


The Town Council on January 3, 2006, overrode a planning staff recommendation by approving a resolution (5-2), in a rare work session action, which set aside amendment procedures for master planning and zoning standards.  Had the amendment procedures been followed it could have resulted in bringing the Crossroads proposal into compliance with regulations that apply to properties sharing similar circumstances. 


The Council cited the time necessary to complete the amending process would delay the developer and compliance with the requirement would change the rules in the middle of the process.  The planning staff reported that failing to cause the developer to undergo the amendment process they could not adequately evaluate the proposal.  It is important to note that the developer of the Vail Front Door and New Dawn projects complied with both the master planning and rezoning procedure to gain approval of their projects.  The Council’s decision favoring the Crossroads developer appears to be inconsistent with requirements imposed upon other developers.  The Crossroads developer has had more than ample time to comply with the amendment procedures, but reportedly has consistently refused planning staff submission requirements.


The Association noted to the Council that their unprecedented action purported to remove from the voters the right to bring the amending master planning and rezoning ordinances before the electorate by means of a referendum.  The Association remarked that the Special Development District (SDD) was approved by ordinance and therefore should be as well subject to referendum.  It was observed, if the Town of Vail were to attempt to override the referendum process for SDD’s the matter could become a legal controversy. 


The Crossroads developer, it is reported, also consistently refuses the planning staff requirement to provide a scale “context” model of his proposal. The model will show the relationship between the project and its immediate neighbors.  The developer says it is sufficient that he has prepared a computer animation of his project and the surrounding area. The value of the scale model is that it is available for detailed and lengthy public scrutiny, resulting in informed public commentary, whereas the computer animation is not.  The scale model will readily show the key relationship of height bulk, and mass with surrounding properties. These are primary issues of public controversy regarding the proposal.  It is reported that some elected and appointed officials may have intervened siding with the developer’s claim that preparation of a model would be an unnecessary delay, even though he has privately shown scale models to some Council members, the Association and others. Developers of large projects, in recent years, have provided both the computer animation and scale “context” models in compliance with public review standards.


It is important for the Town of Vail to avoid the public perception that it gives any developer preferential treatment.  It is unfair not to treat all developers equally.  A review process that is unfair to all other developers sets a dangerous precedent and is a threat to the integrity and purpose of the Town of Vail’s planning and zoning processes.  The Association realizes that time is of the essence, but there must be adequate time and analytical tools for the review process to be conducted properly and fairly.