Breckenridge town deals with VRI fairly
Re: A Question of Fairness (Daily Mail, April 12)Mr. Logan Scott makes the argument that the town of Breckenridge and particularly the town council gives Vail Resorts Inc. (VRI) “preferential treatment” in its dealings with the town and cites a number of cases where he sees this occurring. Though normally the town does not respond to “Letters to the Editor,” we felt it important to provide Mr. Scott and all the public the complete story of the points made by Mr. Scott. The town council feels they have treated VRI fairly, as we do with all developers who come before us, and that the town has benefited greatly by our business dealings with VRI. By way of example, Mr. Scott cites the approval of the peaks 7 and 8 base development and the density transfer that was associated with this approval. Yes, VRI has received approval for 643,100 square feet (549 SFEs) of development at peaks 7 and 8 bases. VRI also had rights to 263,000 square feet (442 SFEs) of density on Watson and Sawmill parking lots with no requirement to keep the 1,560 spaces of skier parking on these lots. The council was very concerned with the potential future development of these lots and the loss of critical skier parking in the core of town, and felt that development better fit up on the mountain at the base of peaks 7 and 8. It was actually the town that proposed transferring some of the density from the parking lots up to peaks 7 and 8. What the town got for this arrangement was:• A guarantee of 1,560 parking spaces remaining in the town core on the Watson/Sawmill and Parkway Center Lots.• A reduction of density on these same parking lots from 442 to 201 SFE’s with 130 SFEs being transferred to peaks 7 and 8, and 111 SFEs being sunseted permanently.• An agreement not to build more than 15,000 square foot of commercial space on peaks 7 and 8 to prevent loss of business to the core of Town.• A commitment by VRI to build the ski back and gondola which were considered critical elements of the town transit system to take vehicles off of Park Avenue and Ski Hill Road.• Donation of 64.7 acres of land for open space adjacent to Cucumber Gulch.• Donation of $200,000 specifically for construction of the new Little Red Schoolhouse Childcare facility.• Donation of Land where the new Breckenridge Station Intermodal Center was built on Watson Ave.On top of all these benefits for the town, VRI still had to go through the town’s vigorous planning approval process to ensure the proposed development on Peaks 7 and 8 fit with the town planning requirements.The transfer of density from VRI’s Mt. Thunder site to peaks 7 and 8 was an extension of the above agreement, where VRI was approved to build 182 SFEs at Mount Thunder and agreed to reduce that density by 60 SFEs. They transferred 48 SFEs to Peak 7, sunseted 12 SFEs and agreed to up their child care donation an additional $50,000.Mr. Scott is right that the town agreed to contribute $6.7 million to assist in getting the Gondola and Ski Back built. The town’s $6.7 million will be generated by the resulting real estate revenues (particularly Real Estate Transfer Tax and Property Tax) from VRI’s peaks 7 and 8 development which would not exist but for the gondola. It will be paid back to the town in approximately six years, depending on the pace of the development, and the cost will be less to the town then the original agreement with VRI as it will pay no interest or inflation on the $6.7 million.Finally, Mr. Scott leaves the impression that the town has given VRI a break on property valuation of land that VRI owns. All property valuation is done by the County Assessor’s office and the town has no say or involvement in the process.This information shows that the town grants no one preferential treatment, but instead works with developers to achieve the best benefit for the town. In closing, we would encourage Mr. Scott and all our citizens to participate in our council and planning commission meetings so that questions such as were raised in his letter can be responded to fully.
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