The Eagle Town Board has amended the rules so that a senior care facility can be built at a prominent Eagle Ranch site.
That action marked the first in a long string of approvals that the proposed Castle Peak Senior Care Community will need before it can start construction at the site located immediately north of Brush Creek Elementary School. But it also marked the first tangible action from the town to create the valley's first senior care facility, a community need that has been identified for 40 years.
Tuesday night the town board approved an amendment to the Eagle Ranch Planned Unit Development Guide that will allow 150,000 square feet of senior care at the site. The board also agreed to an amendment that would allow a three-story building up to a maximum height of 50 feet for a portion of the proposed facility.
Tambi Katieb, representing the Castle Peak Senior Care Community design team, said the project would be completed in phases. He said Phase I includes 64 units - 22 skilled nursing beds, 20 assisted living beds, 12 memory care beds and 10 transitional care/rehabilitation beds. Research done as part of the proposal indicated that the first phase of development will create more than 60 full-time jobs.
Katieb noted that, for decades, residents have had to leave the county when they reached the age when care requirements meant a move to assisted living or skilled nursing centers.
"Continuing care is a critical need that is not met in Eagle County," he said.
Katieb said that before the project can proceed, it will be subject to the town's development permit and final plat review processes. Additionally, the proposal must pass Eagle Ranch design review. He noted there will be ample opportunities for town officials to weigh in on site development and building design issues.
"We would love to be in a position to do groundbreaking in fall of 2013 and move in by 2014," he said.
Eagle Town Planner Tom Boni reported that staff recommended approval of the proposed amendments. He said the integration of a senior care facility in a commercial/residential area would benefit both the Eagle Ranch subdivision and the community as a whole.
That support was echoed by members of the town board. Three members disclosed they had already been involved with early planning efforts connected with the proposal, but all three also noted they would not have to step down from discussions because they did not have a financial conflict of interest related to the plan. Mayor Yuri Kostick said he formerly worked in the Eagle County Housing Department, which is the lead agency for the project planning. Town board member Joe Knabel said he completed an early cost estimate for Eagle County related to the project and town board member Scott Turnipseed noted he was the administrator for the Eagle Ranch Design Review Board and president of the Eagle Ranch Homeowners Association.
In his official capacities with Eagle Ranch, Turnipseed said the project team has been very responsive to design and site planning issues. He noted that while they have requested a three-story building height amendment, the Eagle Ranch rules don't specifically prohibit buildings that tall. Rather, Turnipseed said, the design guidelines reference two-story buildings as the standard. Turnipseed said by placing the tallest part of the building at the structure's center and then stepping down the height as the building extends outward, the design team will minimize the impact of three stories.
"You couldn't ask for a better group of consultants to work with," Turnipseed said.
Kostick said his early experience with the project convinced him that there is a driving need for senior care in Eagle County
"In addition to all the financial benefits this project brings to the community, during my time working on it I found it interesting to note that this has been an identified need since the 1970s," said Kostick. "We won't be a true community until we are multi-generational."
While the Castle Peak Senior Care Community proposal did generate some opposition letters from adjacent property owners who voiced concerns about increased traffic and building heights, no one offered public comment - either in support of, nor opposition to the plan. The town board unanimously approved the amendments.
During discussion Jill Klosterman of Eagle County addressed the question of how the project will be financed. She noted the county is applying for a $12 million federal grant in addition to committing $6 million toward the construction. Augustana Care, the Minnesota-based organization that has contracted with Eagle County to operate the senior care facility, has pledged $1 million. However, Klosterman said the county still anticipates an approximately $3 million shortfall and will be launching a fund-raising drive to come up with that money.
In other action the Eagle Town Board:
• Approved a $3,000 marketing contribution for the Eagle Yoga Fest planned in early October. Organizer Yvonne Schwartz of Yoga Off Broadway is organizing the three-day event that will offer special classes and activities at locations around town. The Eagle Marketing and Events Committee unanimously endorsed the funding request.
• Received an update from Eagle Chamber of Commerce President Jim Ash. After a recent history of financial woes, Ash reported the Chamber currently has assets totaling $60,000 and is launching a series of events and promotions. He invited the town board members to the Chamber's Eagle Vision 20/20 event planned Wednesday, Feb. 27, at town hall. The town board applauded the chamber's projects and leadership.
• Discussed a proposal to begin televising Eagle Town Board meetings. Josh Stowell of Eagle County renewed an offer to help the town make the move to televised meetings and members instructed staff to research costs associated with the project.
• Received information about final sales tax figures from 2012. For the first time since 2008, Eagle recorded growth in sales tax receipts, albeit a modest 2.6 percent overall.