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Citizens Call for Judicial Review of Vail’s Booth Heights Development


For Immediate Release

For further information, please contact Jonathan Staufer gorevalleycitizens(AT)gmail.com

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Vail, Colorado November 12 Saying they’d been left no other avenue, a group of citizens today filed documents with the Eagle County District Court calling for a judicial review of the Town of Vail’s record of decision for the Booth Heights development.


“The bighorn sheep have been in the area for two weeks,” said Jonathan Staufer of the Gore Valley Citizens Alliance. “Despite that, Vail Resorts and Triumph rolled heavy equipment into the area on Monday. They have no interest in protecting the wildlife. Meanwhile, the Town is allowing them to run roughshod over regulations designed to protect wildlife and the environment.”


The proposed Booth Heights development has generated a massive outpouring of public opposition. A record number of 22 appeals to the Town Council were filed after Vail's Planning and Environmental Commission (PEC) approved the project. The opposition culminated with the election to the Town Council of four candidates who opposed the project on November 5. Despite that election, the new Council may not have an opportunity to further review the project.


“We’re not interested in an adversarial relationship with the Town,” Staufer said. “We're hoping the Town will take this opportunity to find another site for housing that will preserve this property for the bighorn sheep.”


The property in question comprises critical winter range for a native herd of bighorn sheep. Four respected wildlife biologists testified against the project over the summer, urging the Town to deny approval and encourage the applicants to build elsewhere.


“An overarching goal in the Vail Town Code is to protect wildlife and the environment,” said Maya Kane, a bighorn sheep expert and one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs. “This project will result in irreversible direct and indirect impacts to the Gore-Eagles Nest bighorn sheep herd. Our goal is to ensure that the herd is adequately protected.”


The property was widely believed to be open space or in the Public realm for several decades. Indeed, the property disappeared from the tax rolls somewhere around 1974 during the acquisition of right of way for Interstate 70 and the Town of Vail’s acquisition of Katsos Ranch. In 2017, it was suddenly announced that the property belonged to Vail Resorts and that the company intended to develop it.


“The Town Code charges the Town Council and the Planning and Environmental Commission with ensuring that the environmental harms associated with large scale development are mitigated appropriately,” said land use attorney Kim Perdue, who is working with the citizens group. “The Town Council, acting through the PEC, is allowing high density development in bighorn sheep winter range without securing meaningful, enforceable, and scientifically sound protections for that sensitive population. The Town Council has also declined to take meaningful action to provide safe pedestrian access to services for the development’s residents, to protect wetlands on the site, and to protect against rockfalls and debris flows.”


“Booth Heights is about money. Period,” Staufer said. “30% of the property will be ‘free market.’ Next year, Vail Resorts will be back at the Town for approvals for EverVail and argue that they’ve satisfied their housing requirement, freeing up that development to reap maximum profits."

November 10, 2019

A Mandate for Change

On November 5, Vail voters went to the polls and elected Kevin Foley, Kim Langmaid, Jen Mason and Brian Stockmar to the Vail Town Council. All four candidates have previously voted against the Booth Heights development and in favor of open space and bighorn sheep. In addition, all four candidates have argued for more transparency in government.

We’re hoping this will mean that the East Vail parcel will finally be protected permanently as open space and bighorn sheep habitat.

That outcome is by no means certain. Vail Resorts and Triumph Development now have approval to build on the property, and the new Town Council may not have a legal path to revisit the project. We are watching the situation closely and have been in discussions with legal experts to see what can be done to encourage an outcome that preserves the parcel for the bighorn sheep.

We continue our efforts to make sure Vail Resorts lives up to their Epic Promise of “Environmental and community sustainability” that they say “are at the core of our foundational values.” A couple of terrific photographs of the Gore Valley herd have appeared in the Vail Daily’s hashtag #vaillive, and the letters continue.

PLEASE HELP KEEP UP THE PUBLIC PRESSURE!

Finally, we hope Vail residents will seize the opportunity presented by the November 5 election and help the new Town Council drive forward their agenda for change. There will be an immediate opening on the Planning and Environmental Commission when Brian Stockmar assumes his new position on Town Council and there will be other opportunities to support the Council with letters to the editor, by speaking in person and by serving on boards.

Thank you for your continued support!


Please signup for our mailing list via: gorevalleycitizens(AT)gmail.com

Our all-volunteer efforts rely entirely on your generous support. Contributions to Gore Valley Citizens Alliance may be made through our GoFundMe or via check to:

Gore Valley Citizens Alliance

100 E Meadow Dr., Suite 31

Vail, Colorado 81657

Visit us at gorevalley.com

Follow us on Twitter @gorevalley

October 20, 2019

WE HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT!

Last Tuesday, the Vail Town Council heard a record seven appeals out of a record 22 appeals regarding the Vail Resorts/Triumph Development Booth Heights development.

The seven appellants who had been given standing by the Director of Community Development Matt Gannet made good, legal arguments for turning down the project or for at least remanding it back to the Planning and Environmental Commission for further evaluation. They discussed geological hazards on the proposed sight, the lack of an adequate traffic study, the lack of adequate pedestrian linkages, the lack of existing and potential transportation and the lack of a wildlife study, among many things.

For over an hour, the vast majority of the Council’s constituents - some of whom helped elect Dave Chapin, Jenn Bruno, Travis Coggin and Greg Moffet - spoke and sang against the Vail Resorts/Triumph development and against the extirpation of bighorn sheep from the Gore Valley. We informed the Council that over 5,600 people had signed our petition (over 100 have joined since)! Of the Public who addressed them, only four people spoke in favor of the project. Two of them work for Vail Resorts and the last is on the board of the Vail Valley Chamber.

In the end, saying he’d heard “No new evidence,” Mayor Chapin sided with Booth Heights boosters Moffet, Bruno and Coggin, and voted to in favor of Vail Resorts and Triumph Development and against the bighorn sheep.

We’ve spent the last few days, like many of you, licking our wounds and incredulous at a decision that flies in the face of every ideal Vail has tried to stand for in its brief but storied history.

There is nowhere to go but forward. We are examining what measures might be taken next to save the bighorn sheep. In the meantime, Citizens for Responsible Government has formed to support Jen Mason, Brian Stockmar, Kevin Foley, and Kim Langmaid in their Town Council bids. These Public servants have already voted against the Booth Heights development and actually listen to the Public.

As a recent article in the Vail Daily pointed out, the project must still go through Design Review Board approval. There will be other hurdles and we’ll be there at every step doing what we can to make them higher!

WE WILL SHORTLY BE SUSPENDING THE PETITION. Please signup for our mailing list via: gorevalleycitizens(AT)gmail.com

Contributions to Gore Valley Citizens Alliance may be made through our GoFundMe or via check to:


Gore Valley Citizens Alliance

100 E Meadow Dr., Suite 31

Vail, Colorado 81657

Visit us at gorevalley.com

Follow us on Twitter @gorevalley

Thank you as ever for your support!


URGENT ACTION ALERT!

October 14, 2019

On Tuesday, October 15 at 5:30p.m., the Vail Town Council will hear a record seven appeals on the Booth Heights development proposal. Members of the Public will be given 3 minutes to address their elected officials.

We are calling on all of our 5,000 supporters to come and speak on behalf of bighorn sheep, open space and the wild!

This hearing in itself is a victory of sorts: Despite having promised a full Public hearing on the subject in 2017 when they approved a “minor” subdivision and zoned the parcel, the Vail Town Council thus far has avoided facing a constituency that is massively opposed to this development.

This hearing is largely due to your efforts. Let’s show up Tuesday and make sure they hear us loud and clear!

For those of you who can not attend in person, emails can be sent to towncouncil@vailgov.com and you can follow and comment on Twitter @vailtowncouncil.

As reported previously, we are supported in our efforts by the Colorado Chapter of the Sierra Club. In addition, the local chapter of the Climate Reality Project has joined this effort to save the Gore Valley herd of bighorn sheep!

Susan Knopf penned a superb editorial in the Summit Daily News. We’ve posted a link to it here.

Further inspiration can be found in “Ode to the Bighorn” by Jim Carstensen. Jim drove the Town of Vail bus for many years and is a long time resident of East Vail. His composition and his beautiful performance expresses well how so many of us feel. Thank you John Ervin for bringing Jim’s song to our attention.

See all of you:

Tuesday, October 15, 5:30 p.m. Vail Town Council Chambers 75 S. Frontage Rd. Vail, CO 81657

Thank you!

Contributions to Gore Valley Citizens Alliance may be made through our GoFundMe or via check to:

Gore Valley Citizens Alliance

100 E Meadow Dr., Suite 31

Vail, Colorado 81657


October 1, 2019

Good morning!

Yesterday evening we received excellent news that the Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter - Colorado’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental group over 100,000 strong! - has mounted an effort to protect bighorn sheep and their habitat in the Gore Valley! Their petition to the Vail Town Council can be read and signed here !

Seven appellants have been given standing by the Director of Community Development. The “rules” for that hearing will be discussed tonight, October 1 at 6:00 p.m. in the Vail Town Council’s chambers. A number of people, including Gore Valley Citizens Alliance’s attorney, will be on hand to ensure a fair and open process. Meanwhile, Gore Valley Citizens Alliance and several appellants who have not been given standing will appeal that decision to the Town Council.

A new political committee, Citizens for Responsible Government - has been formed to support Brian Stockmar, Kim Langmaid, Jen Mason and Kevin Foley (their names will appear on the ballot in this order) for Vail Town Council. All four have already indicated strong opposition to the Booth Heights development project. If you would like further information on this effort, please contact them on vailresponsiblegovernment (AT) gmail.com

Anne Esson had a gorgeous letter in the Vail Daily yesterday. It encapsulates much of how we all feel about the potential extirpation of bighorn sheep and loss of their habitat, not to mention the crooked approval process thus far. We have links to her letter and many more here.

Keep up those letters to the Vail Town Council and your favorite news sources: THIS IS A STATE-WIDE ISSUE and we are as ever grateful for all you do!

Email: gorevalleycitizens (AT) gmail.com Twitter: @gorevalley

Contributions to Gore Valley Citizens Alliance may be made through our GoFundMe or via check to:

Gore Valley Citizens Alliance

%Jonathan Staufer

100 E Meadow Dr., Suite 31

Vail, Colorado 81657

Vail Homeowners Association 9/9/19 - Plight of the Bighorn Sheep

Good morning! As of Monday September 16 at 5:00 p.m., a total of 22 appeals of the Vail Planning and Environmental Association's approval of the Booth Heights development! That is a record number of appeals of a Vail PEC approval! At the Town Council meeting yesterday evening, the Director of Community Development, Matt Gennett, reported that he had given standing to one of those appeals and a hearing date in front of the Town Council has been set for October 15. We will know the status of the rest of the appeals, including that of Gore Valley Citizens Coalition, later today and will update you as soon as possible.

As of this morning, we have raised over $3,000 to provide legal support to the appeal effort. Thank you to all you who have contributed. This is a true grassroots effort so every dollar, every letter to the editor and every post on social media helps! KEEP UP THE PRESSURE!

If you have not already done so and are able, you may contribute to Gore Valley Citizens Alliance via check to 100 E Meadow Dr., #31, Vail, CO 81657 or via our GoFundMe

Donations made through change.org provide excellent tools for community activists, not to Gore Valley Citizens Alliance.

Keep in touch - www.gorevalley.com on Twitter @gorevalley or gorevalley (at) gmail.com

We are urging the Vail Town Council to review the PEC approval of the Booth Heights Development. Stay tuned. Stay informed. Stay engaged!

Receive more timely updates by emailing us at gorevalleycitizens (AT) gmail.com

John Laconte of the Vail Daily reports that the Town of Vail's hired biologists' top recommendation for wildlife mitigation on the Booth Heights site is to "find another location." Laconte writes that the biologists' recommendation, at the head of the third paragraph of their letter (see below) was not included in the memorandum written to the PEC by the Town Staff.

Booth Heights - Biologist Roundtable Final Recommendation Summary.pdf
VHA EVBH PEC report 073019 (2).pdf