Vail Resorts Files Lawsuit Against Vail in District Court Alleging Misuse of Emergency Order

Sheep are seen grazing in East Vail. The East Vail herd is at the center of a complaint in Eagle County District Court.
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Vail Resorts filed a lawsuit in Eagle County District Court on Tuesday accusing the City of Vail of misusing the emergency ordinance process by denying permits to the resort’s developer. These permits would have aided in the partial development of a 23.3-acre parcel of land the company owns in East Vail.

The emergency ordinance (Ordinance 16) was passed on August 2 and was intended to preserve the property while the city works to acquire the land through the condemnation process in an effort to prevent development at high density of bighorn sheep habitat in the region.

But Vail Resorts, in the complaint, said the soil testing permit it sought would not, if approved, have resulted in any disturbance of bighorn sheep habitat.

“Vail Resorts engaged a bighorn sheep expert to assess whether the soil testing permit would impact the bighorn sheep referred to in Order 16, and determined that it would not” , according to the complaint. “She was the only bighorn sheep expert who appeared and testified at the hearing on August 2, 2022. She further testified that the city’s delay until November 1, 2022 to conduct such tests would in fact more problematic for the bighorn sheep than allowing Vail Resorts to go ahead now.

Vail Resorts’ complaint seeks to have Order 16 overturned. In the complaint, Vail Resorts said emergency orders should be rare and should only be used to protect the public.

“But Order 16 does not protect the public at all,” Vail Resorts alleges in the complaint. “Although on the face of it Ordinance 16 purports to prevent irreparable harm to wildlife, including a herd of bighorn sheep, and other natural resources, the real purpose of the ordinance has been relayed by the City attorney Matt Mire at the Aug. 2, 2022 hearing. He said the order was necessary for the city to, in essence, take possession of the property because the city’s conviction record n It wasn’t ready yet despite the fact that City Council passed its sentencing resolution nearly three months prior and instructed its city attorney to prepare that resolution nearly four months ago.

City of Vail spokesperson Kris Widlak said Mire is reviewing the complaint and hasn’t yet had a chance to speak to the city council.

Vail Resorts spokesman John Plack said Vail Resorts does not want to end up in court and the company’s goal is unchanged.

That goal is “more urgently needed additional affordable housing in the city of Vail,” Plack said. “However, the extraordinary and unusual action of the City of Vail and improper use of an emergency order resulted in our filing in court on August 30, 2022.”

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