By Margaret Jackson / NewsBreak Denver
(Vail, Colo.) Vail Resorts’ plan to spend $17 million to develop affordable housing for 165 employees hit a roadblock Tuesday when the Vail town council voted to condemn the parcel developers planned to use.
The council’s 4-3 vote lets the town seize ownership of the 23-acre parcel to prevent development, which the town says will protect a bighorn sheep herd that winters on the property along Interstate 70.
“Our company is deeply saddened and disappointed to see the Town of Vail choose to condemn land for an approved affordable housing development,” said Bill Rock, executive vice president of Vail Resorts.
Vail approved the project in October 2019 after an extensive planning and environmental review, including a wildlife study conducted with input from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“The Town Council’s decision today is a complete reversal of their actions just two years ago,” Rock said. “The Town of Vail has not attempted to block any of the new home construction or condemn any of the more than 100 luxury homes in the same sheep habitat. Instead, the Town of Vail has only singled out land approved for affordable housing for condemnation.”
Jen Bruno, former Town Council member and a small-business owner, questioned why no one objected to the multimillion-dollar duplex built next to Booth Heights or renovations on Katsos Ranch Road.
Most mountain towns have a shortage of workers because of the lack of affordable housing. Vail Resorts came under fire this ski season for its inability to provide the level of services tourists expect.
“We are the people who bring this community to life, and just like everyone else, we deserve to live here,” said Kate Schifani, Vail Mountain snowmaking manager.