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Council review of the update to the 1994 Comprehensive Open Lands Plan

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The Vail Town Council reviewed the status of the update to the 1994 Comprehensive Open Lands Plan at its regular evening meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

As part of Tuesday’s presentation, the project team asked Town Council to review and comment on three policy related elements of the 1994 Plan:       

  • The 1994 Plan recommends the acquisition of privately-owned lands to further goals for open space preservation, protection of environmentally sensitive lands, trail development and other public uses.
    Should the Plan update continue to advocate for the acquisition of privately-owned lands?
  • The 1994 Plan served to define the town boundary with U.S. Forest Service lands and resulted in the Land Ownership Adjustment Agreement. 
    Should the Plan update advocate for USFS land exchanges and if so for what purposes?
  • The 1994 Plan recommends the use of Open Space Designations or conservation easements to protect lands.
    Should the Plan update advocate the use of conservation easements to further protect town-owned lands? 

Town Council provided guidance on all three questions, directing staff to continue to including the acquisition of private lands in the Open Lands Plan, and to generally avoid the pursuit of U.S. Forest Service lands to alter the town boundary as a priority in the Open Lands Plan. The Council also expressed support for the use of conservation easements to further protection of town-owned lands where appropriate.
The Town of Vail Comprehensive Open Lands Plan was adopted in 1994 and has provided the town with a framework of recommended actions that has established a comprehensive system of public benefits, including parks, recreation, protection of sensitive habitats, trails and land to be reserved for public uses including public buildings and employee housing. More than 30 of the 52 parcels identified in the plan have either been acquired, are close to being acquired or have met the objective of the plan without acquisition.
In authorizing the plan’s update, the Town Council directed staff to work with the community in determining which parts of the original plan have been completed, which parts are still relevant and to identify new needs based on current issues such as protection of Gore Creek water quality, recreational opportunities, including trails, as well as the potential for acquisition of sites for housing and other public uses.

The project team has begun drafting the updated plan. Upcoming steps in the planning process include:   

  • The town has engaged S.E. Group, a consulting firm with specialization in trails planning. In the coming weeks S.E. group will be meeting with members of the community and will be hosting a trails-specific community workshop this fall.
  • Presentation of a draft plan to obtain recommendations from the Planning and Environmental Commission in October, along with a 30 day community public input period.
  • Presentation of a final plan for consideration by the Town Council.

To view a staff memo on the Open Lands Plan Update, click here or to comment in advance of the meeting email the Vail Town Council at towncouncil@vailgov.com.  For additional questions, contact Kristen Bertuglia in the Community Development Department at 970-477-3455 or email kbertuglia@vailgov.com.

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