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

Directors:  Judith Berkowitz  -  Dolph Bridgewater  -  Bob Galvin  -  Ron Langley  -  Bill Morton  -  Gretta Parks  -  Richard Conn

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

From:         Jim Lamont

Date;          August 11, 2004 

RE:             Relocation of Lionshead Snow Cat Access Route 

Introduction:  The Vail Town Council has approved on first reading, an ordinance that would permit a new access trail to Vail Mountain for Vail Resortís (VRI) snow cats (snow grooming vehicles) that crosses Town of Vail owned land, from VRIís maintenance yard in West Lionshead.  The site is the hillside located south of Gore Creek, the Lionshead Amoco Station, and sewer treatment plant.  See illustrations below.

The Homeowners Association strongly favors the location of the new trail because it allows the elimination of snow cat traffic from adjacent residential neighborhoods.   The trail, before it receives final approval for construction, from the Town of Vail, must navigate a complex series of legal requirements. 

Recommendation:  The Association urges affected property owners to communicate in writing their support for the proposed location of snow cat and skier access trails to the Vail Town Council.  Further, property owners in the Glen Lyon subdivision and Cascade Village are urged to support a change in the protective covenants that would provide for both trails. 

Discussion:  The site has protective covenants and is zoned as open space.  The language in the covenants and zone district does not allow for the proposed snow cat and an existing skier access trail.  The skier trail (Westin Ho) accesses the Glen Lyon subdivision and Cascade Village.  A supermajority of property owners in Glen Lyon and Cascade Village must approve an amendment to the covenant language that would allow both uses.  The Town of Vail must modify the zoning to permit the trails. Vail Resort has represented to the Town of Vail, should the trails not be approved, that it will have to close the Westin Ho access. 

The land is included in the Lionshead Reinvestment Authority (Urban Renewal Authority).  If the Glen Lyon and Cascade Village property owners fail to approve the covenants change, the Town Council can take two other courses of action to provide for the access trails. Using its urban renewal public benefit powers of eminent domain, the offending language of the protective covenant can be removed. Secondly, the Town can apply its public purpose eminent domain powers to condemn a public right-of-way for the access trails.

Currently, VRIís snow cat accesses Vail Mountain through the West Forest Road residential neighborhood.  The company as part of its Lionshead redevelopment has for several years desired to relocate the access route away from residential neighborhoods because of concerns over incompatibility.  The company significantly lowered the degree of incompatibility through the reduction of snow cat traffic by moving their fueling station onto the slopes of the ski Mountain.  The Town of Vail adopted a provision in its 1996 Lionshead Master Plan that allows for the open space site to be used as a location of the snow cat access trail.  Another Town owned site was set aside for a bridge, currently under construction, to access the proposed trail.  Alternative routes through the Town owned sites and environmental impacts were studied by VRI.  The route with the least visual impact, which follows the Gore Creek bike path, joining with the Westin Ho trail, was rejected because it was too near to residential property on the eastern edge of the Glen Lyon subdivision.  A route was chosen that reduced to a minimum the impact of constructing the trail up a steep hillside and was screened from adjoining residences.  Substantial investments and reconfiguration of land ownership have been made by VRI and governmental entities in anticipation that the trail will be permitted.  See Town of Vail Staff Reports for additional information.

Conclusion:  There is a small minority of Glen Lyon property owners who oppose the proposed access route based upon an unsubstantiated perception that they will be negatively impacted by the proposal.  The Association supports the remediation or elimination of dysfunctional infrastructure issues in conjunction with redevelopment projects.  The negative environmental impact from snow cat access is a long-standing problem for a substantial number of residential property owners.  The solution proposed by VRI has the potential to eliminate the negative impacts upon all adjacent residential property owners and is therefore worthy of support and implementation at the earliest possible date.  

Contact Vail Town Council:  Email:; Voicemail: 970-479-1860; Fax: 970-479-2157; US mail: 75 South Frontage Road West, Vail, CO 81657.  Additional Information is available on the Associationís website.  Please forward to appropriate parties.