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October 10, 2012
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Eagle trims nearly 200 units from Haymeadow plan

Formal action on project sketch plan in two weeks

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The Haymeadow development plan shrunk by 192 units Tuesday night as the Eagle Town Board approved the concept of the Brush Creek Valley residential development.

That number is down from a 809-unit figure town staff and the developer had negotiated this week in preparations for town board deliberations regarding the density issue. Two weeks ago, the board and the developer ironed out a list of 49 conditions for a sketch plan approval and set the stage for the density discussion Tuesday.

Haymeadow developer Ric Newman had originally proposed 979 residential units - multi-family and single family dwellings - on the property located southeast of town in the Brush Creek Valley adjacent to the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. He said the plan is a "conservation-oriented development" characterized by large open space tracts that comprise the major amenity of the development. Newman said 60 percent of the land contained in Haymeadow is classified as open space. The Haymeadow proposal includes 11.5 miles of recreational trails and a wildlife migration corridor ranging from 500 to 1,000 feet across runs north to south across the property.

The Haymeadow discussion is part of the development's sketch plan review. This is the initial step in the town's development process and it is limited in scope. In general, sketch plan determines if proposed uses and densities for a project are acceptable. If approval is granted, the town traditionally sets a series of conditions that must be met when a developer proceeds to a more detailed preliminary plan.

Noting that staff negotiations had resulted in a density reduction from 979 units to 809 units, Eagle Mayor Yuri Kostick said he was more supportive of the plan. "Looking at the overall density number, there is a couple of things going on. I am sort of comfortable where the staff got to with the applicant," he said.

Kostick pointed to the Eagle Ranch development, saying the total approved density there is larger than the number of homes actually built once the developers satisfied their various road, open space and park land requirements. Kostick said he doubted that Haymeadow could actually hit the 809 unit figure.

Town board member Joe Knabel presented his own density analysis, which features higher density closer to town and lower density as the project stretches to the southeast. Knabel's analysis resulted in a density of 596 units.

In response, town board member Scott Turnipseed suggested that attaching specific density figures to proposed neighborhoods contained within the Haymeadow exceeds the parameters of a sketch plan discussion. Instead, he suggested moving proposed residential development away from the Brush Creek Road corridor to preserve the character of the valley and trimming the density number negotiated by staff accordingly. To that end, he proposed a 787-unit figure.

Other members said they were not as concerned with the density number as they were with ensuring a quality project that fits in Eagle.

"The lower that we make this density, the more expensive we are going to make these houses," said town board member Ann McKibben. "I don't want trophy homes but rather homes for middle class people. By lowering the density, we are putting a lot of this at risk."

Town board member Brandi Resa said the Haymeadow plan was too dense and that she believes approved density at the site should be less than 600. "It seems like sprawl to me," said Resa. "Sometimes the best decision is not to develop."

Other members responded that the Haymeadow property sits within the town's master plan growth boundaries and it is called out for residential development.

Ultimately Resa and Knabel cast dissenting votes on a motion to instruct town staff to prepare the formal resolution to approve the Haymeadow sketch plan with a total density of 787 units. The board will take formal action on the plan at the Oct. 23 meeting.

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The VailDaily Updated Oct 10, 2012 01:15PM Published Oct 10, 2012 01:14PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.