Hundreds of people packed this week's Eagle County Commissioners first final-approval hearing for a proposed new community in Wolcott. But the plan is still far from approval.
Commissioners said it will take several more meetings to work through the plan. The next hearing is set for April 30 and the commissioners said they will probably not be ready to take public comment at that time.
The county commissioners are taking their third and last look at the proposal. There is no schedule for approval, but developers Rick Hermes and his partners with Community Concepts say they hope to break ground this summer.
Over five and a half years they've tallied 25 public hearings with various Eagle County boards. They've spent $12 million, so far, and haven't moved a shovel of dirt.
"It's a tribute to our investors," Hermes said. "They have homes here and they understand the unique location. "We live in a pretty great place. There's a lot to do here."
County Commissioner Sara Fisher said it's also a tribute to the hundreds of people who took time away from their jobs to show up on a snowy afternoon. She asked that when the meeting schedule is posted, that it state whether the public will be able to comment. She and the other commissioners agreed that the public will have all the opportunities it needs to make its opinions known.
Hermes and his group have several approvals already, including a 4-3 vote from the Eagle County Planning Commission to recommend the county commissioners final approval.
Its developers say that Wolcott will create 1,600 jobs to build and staff the planned community. More than 800 of those jobs would remain after construction is finished, Hermes said.
The project parallels Eagle County's Wolcott area master plan. It will start by realigning U.S. Highway 6, moving it away from the Eagle River and closer to Interstate 70, so it doesn't split the community as it does in other areas. That makes Wolcott a pedestrian community, Hermes said.
The plan emphasizes smaller lots, smaller homes and more landscaping, Hermes said.
Wolcott's downtown promenade has the same historical look and feel as Denver's Larimer Square, Hermes said. The plan also includes a barn/community center, and pedestrian paths run throughout the property.
The focal point is the Eagle River, and a mile and a half of limited public access.
Most of the homes are will be moderately priced sized - around 2,000 square feet. When it's completed, Wolcott would be home to about 2,000 people.
In May 2008 the Jouflas family put the property under contract, about the time the county said it wanted Wolcott planned as a single community.