While the weather in Colorado is cooling down, the conflict between Vail Resorts and the Vail Town Council is heating up. The Vail Town Council has been adamantly against the ski resort giant building an employee housing unit in East Vail, due to it being close to a big horn sheep habitat. After the town council made moves to condemn the land, Vail Resorts filed a legal complaint against the town. In response, the Vail Town Council offered the company $12 million for the plot of land. Vail Daily reports that Vail Resorts has rejected this offer, writing a five-page letter to the town council to explain its reasoning:
Bill Rock, the Executive Vice President of Vail Resorts and Chief Operating Officer of Vail’s mountain division, wrote the following in the letter sent to the Vail Town Council:
“For Vail Resorts, this is not, and has never been about money. This is about building affordable housing that the town desperately needs now to support the hundreds of employees who are the town’s lifeblood and who make both Vail Mountain and the town of Vail a world-class destination…
After five years of collaborative efforts between Vail Resorts and the Town Council, including significant effort on the part of both entities to prepare a robust and meaningful mitigation plan to protect the bighorn sheep and numerous negotiations over the past year to discuss alternative options for collaboration, this Town Council’s decision to eradicate those efforts and turn shovel ready affordable housing into open space in a Town that is so limited in available, developable land, and in an area that already has luxury homes and significant human activity within it, is inexplicable.”
The Vail Town Council responded to this letter to Vail Daily and explained their reasoning why they continue to oppose the housing project. Kim Langmaid, who is the Mayor of Vail, said that they “heard from the wildlife biologist that we should avoid any development on that site in total because of the impact of ongoing daily disturbance to the sheep will compromise their health and ability to persist in the future…That is why we have requested many times over and offered alternate sites that have no impact on big horn sheep.”
On the other hand, Vail Resorts has hired a big horn sheep expert, who says it wouldn’t impact the concentration area or winter range. According to the maps that Vail has shown, the land is barely in the bighorn sheep winter range.
The Vail Town Council will have a meeting tonight to discuss ways to fund the purchase of the land. This move is to make sure that the land doesn’t become employee housing. Hopefully, some people show up the express the benefits of more employee housing in the area.