Vail Residents Support City Council Against Vail Resorts

Several Vail residents and Vail Resorts representatives gathered on Tuesday, August 2, 2022 as the Vail City Council voted to impose a moratorium on the issuance of any permits for a 23-acre site in East Vail that the resort company wish to use for housing.
Kris Widlak/Courtesy Photo

VAIL – A number of residents showed up at City Hall on Tuesday, September 6 to show their support for Vail City Council’s decision to acquire by condemnation a parcel in East Vail.

The Vail City Council kicks off each citizen-engaged meeting, where everyone can talk about anything not on the evening’s agenda. These comments are usually brief and cover a range of issues.

Tuesday’s comments had one overriding theme: the council’s condemnation action against Vail Resorts over the 23.3-acre parcel commonly known as Booth Heights. Several residents have urged council to stay strong in the process following Vail Resorts filing a lawsuit last week against the city to challenge council’s August 2 passage of an emergency ordinance that prevents the issuance of any work permits on the property.

Debbie King Ford, a longtime opponent of housing development on the site, said she’s hearing a “ground wave” of support from residents who want to financially support any purchase of the property by the city. King Ford said she believes a grassroots effort could “raise millions” to buy the property.

Use transfer tax

King Ford noted that the city’s real estate transfer tax was created to fund open space purchases and improvements. The tax collects 1% of the price of each real estate transaction in the municipality.

City finance director Carlie Smith noted in an email that if $10.4 million of that fund is earmarked for programs and projects, estimates show the fund could have a balance of $17.6 million. million dollars at the end of this year.

Resident Betsy Kiel agreed that the transfer tax is a good source to finance the purchase of the property.

“If Vail Resorts were a good citizen of the community, they would do a fair deal with you,” Kiel said.

Resident Kirsty Hinz took her time on the podium to cheer the council on and share a low opinion of Vail Resorts.

Hintz said she thinks the resort company’s claims that the Booth Heights site was about housing “are rubbish.”

Resident Richard Leslie said his legal career included arguments before the United States Supreme Court. Leslie, offering “free” legal advice, told council members “You are the good guys,” in the dispute.

Leslie claimed Vail Resorts had the opportunity to “do a very good thing” in the dispute by agreeing to sell the parcel.

Longtime resident Merv Lapin said Vail Resorts and its predecessor, Vail Associates, have had the opportunity to build homes in the community for the past 56 years, and it hasn’t happened.

“We let them off the hook”

“We let them off the hook,” Lapin said, adding that he thinks the city should also start sentencing proceedings against Vail Resorts for the Ever Vail parcel, for the parking lot, as well as the land under the structure. Lionshead parking lot and Vail Health. Hospital.

Lapin noted that if the hospital were to disappear, for whatever reason, the land would revert to Vail Resorts.

Mark Gordon, a resident and former council member who signed a recent letter calling for budget restraint when acquiring the plot, said the public must be involved in resolving the dispute.

Gordon urged council to submit the acquisition of the plot to a municipal vote once the sale price has been determined.

This vote would allow the council “to know without a doubt where the citizens are” on the question.

Gordon acknowledged residents cannot force a referendum, but council members can put the issue to the public with a four-person majority.

“Let’s have this discussion and this vote,” Gordon said.

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