Vail Resorts announces plans to build on controversial parcel in East Vail |

Vail Resorts announces plans to build on controversial parcel in East Vail

Company details plans to move forward with $17M project to provide 165 employees with affordable housing

Bighorn sheep congregate in East Vail in 2020 on a parcel of land which could see development in the future.
Gary Eno photo.

Vail Resorts on Monday announced plans to go forward with a controversial project to develop a parcel of land in East Vail for workforce housing.

The land is located on bighorn sheep habitat. Vail Resorts learned it owned the parcel in 2016 after a previous land map had shown the 23-acre parcel was owned by the state of Colorado. Vail Resorts had not been paying taxes on the land in the decades leading up to the discovery, but the company paid two years back taxes and in 2017 requested rezoning for the 23-acre parcel, which was zoned as two-family residential.

Most of the property was moved into a natural area preservation zone district, but 5.4 acres was moved into a housing zone district.

A study was undertaken during the winter of 2017-18 by wildlife biologist Rick Thompson, who found 93 sheep on and in the immediate vicinity of the 5.4-acre East Vail development area during the study.

In 2019, the town’s planning and environmental commission passed a project, known as Booth Heights, to build 61 residential units on the 5.4-acre parcel by a vote of 4-3. One of the deciding votes in favor was cast by a Vail Resorts employee who was on the commission, adding to the controversy.

The Vail Town Council upheld the planning commission’s decision, also on a 4-3 vote, but a Vail Town Council election a few months later turned the council majority against the previous council’s decision, and a period of negotiations were entered into to preserve the sheep habitat.

“This project was approved by the Town of Vail in October 2019 after an extensive planning and environmental review, including a wildlife study performed with input from Colorado Parks and Wildlife,” Vail Resorts announced in a release issued Monday. “The approval was upheld by the district court in October 2020. Construction was then delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company looks forward to proceeding this summer with this essential project, which is expected to be complete by December 2023.

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