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August 27, 2013
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Commissioners vote against Edwards Habitat rezoning

EDWARDS — The county commissioners refused to rezone a sliver of land near Homestead so Habitat for Humanity could build low-income housing on it.

Rick Mueller’s Remonov and Company had asked the county commissioners to rezone 1.38 acres so Habitat for Humanity could build 16 affordable townhomes. Mueller has served on Habitat’s board of directors for years.

All three commissioners — Sara Fisher, Jill Ryan and Kathy Chandler-Henry — said that while the project would benefit the county, those benefits do not outweigh the issues it would create, a list that they said was headed by the safety of the people who would live there.

“As huge as those benefits are, I don’t think they outweigh the issues,” Ryan said.

Mueller said he has been working on this for two and a half years and spent $80,000. Habitat doesn’t have that kind of time or money, he said.

“If you’re going to give back to the community, this is a way to do it,” Mueller said.

Mueller said they were careful to meet every requirement, pointing out that the proposal meets the county’s master plan, the Edwards comprehensive plan, the affordable hosing plan, the access control plan, the design guidelines, the future land use map, the Edwards Area Task Force plan, and the criteria by the county’s community development department.

“What good are the rules if they don’t follow them?” Mueller asked after the meeting.

The land is zoned commercial general and could be used for a wide variety of projects under the county’s regulations.

Rick Pylman handled the presentation for Remonov, saying that Tract K is the perfect place for workforce housing.

Since June, the local Habitat affiliate has had 26 families for its next six homes, said John Welaj, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Eagle and Lake Counties.

Pylman said the project meets a “demonstrated community need” for affordable housing in Edwards. The agreement makes this an affordable housing project forever.

“We get the housing before there is an obligation to create affordable housing,” said Jill Klosterman, Eagle County’s housing director.

Habitat for Humanity has built 28 homes in the past six years, Welaj said.

Habitat’s partner families earn between 35-65 percent of the average local family income.

Homestead opponents applaud the vote

Homestead homeowners applauded after the commissioners unanimously defeated the proposal.

They had lined up to oppose it Tuesday for safety and density reasons, one saying it was “really quite awful,” and another, a real estate agent, saying it would impact real estate values in lower Homestead.

“Death, taxes and Tract K keep coming back all the time,” said Homestead resident Chris Neuswanger.

He said they have more than 500 signatures on their online petition opposing it.

Fisher told him an online petition does not constitute public input, but agreed that it could indicate public sentiment.

Habitat staffers and supporters said they were disappointed with the decision, but that their mission remains unchanged.

Currently, the local Habitat affiliate is building six more townhomes on land it bought in Gypsum’s Stratton Flats neighborhood.

About affordable housing credits

Affordable housing credits were first used in 2005, when the Fox Hollow applicant received 82 housing credits, according to the county’s records. Fox Hollow was originally proposed as a completely commercial development in Edwards.

When it was changed to include the residential units, the developers donated their 82 housing credits to Habitat for Humanity.

Humanity for Humanity used them to partially fund building its Fox Hollow townhome project in Edwards.

Of the 79 housing credits Habitat for Humanity was donated, 24 were sold to the developers of the McCoy Creek Cabins in Arrowhead.

The McCoy Creek Cabins developers spent $20,833.33 per credit, according to the county’s records.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Aug 27, 2013 10:05PM Published Aug 28, 2013 08:21PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.