Eagle Town Council members approved a major change to the development plan of the Haymeadow project, which aims to construct 837 homes in the area just east of the Eagle Pool & Ice Rink.
The project’s developers have been pushing to swap a 6.5-acre plot of town-owned land near the heart of their planned development in exchange for 8 acres of land they own in another area. The swap will allow them to speed up the construction of much-needed affordable, multifamily housing, developers said.
The amendment was set for a vote last month, but Town Council members tabled the matter to give developers time to implement additional requests they made to sweeten the deal for the town.
The resolution presented to the Town Council on Tuesday satisfied all of these asks, which centered around a push to accelerate the timeline of the project’s first phase and increase the number of deed-restricted housing units completed in the first phase.
“I don’t think in all my years of doing this, I’ve ever been in this position,” Mayor Scott Turnipseed said in last month’s meeting. “It’s always been the developer begging the town to go faster so they can build, and now the town is wanting you to go faster to build.”
The first phase of the Haymeadow project already promises the construction of approximately 200 units over the next five to six years, according to a presentation given by Eagle town staff last month.
Town Council members also asked that language be added to the amended agreement around how soon developers can build up the necessary infrastructure around the 8 acres of land they are offering to the town in the proposed swap.
The 8-acre plot currently does not have full access to utilities like water and electricity, so council members asked for guarantees that this infrastructure will be completed in a timely manner.
Finally, the Town Council asked that housing be prioritized for Eagle residents. The resolution approved Tuesday stipulates that Haymeadow will set aside 30 units as “resident occupied deed-restricted units” in addition to Eagle’s local employee residency program, which requires that 10% of units in any residential development go to local employees.
These 30 units will be completed in the very first phase of construction on the 6.5 acres acquired in the land swap. If there are no pending applications from town residents, the units will then be made available to Eagle County residents, land planner Rick Pylman said last month.
The Town Council discussed the particulars of the amendment for nearly an hour and a half Tuesday evening, with a lot of input from impassioned residents. Some residents advocated for more affordable housing by any means necessary and others advocated against what they saw as an unbalanced swap set to benefit the developers more than the town.
Finally, Town Council member David Gaboury made a motion to approve the change. The motion passed by a vote of 5 to 1 with Council member Ellen Bodenhemier as the only dissenting vote.
“I just was hesitant to give away a parcel of town-owned land that was zoned for recreational purposes,” Bodenhemier said in an interview Thursday. “There was a lot of synergy with the location of that recreational parcel with it being adjacent to the Mountain Recreation campus.”
The 8-acre plot that will be annexed by the town as part of the trade will also be zoned for recreational use, according to Tuesday’s discussion.
The loss of “synergy” in giving up that 6.5-acre parcel near the Mountain Recreation facility was also on the minds of residents and other stakeholders. Developers have said that having multifamily housing near the Mountain Rec campus and the future school planned for the area would create its own synergy, allowing families easy access to school and after-school activities.
When all was said and done, Bodenhemier said she trusts the decision made by her fellow council members and is glad that the project will be able to move along more quickly.
“I am happy that the outcome will produce available housing inventory in Eagle quicker,” she said Thursday. “I think the best possible outcome for Eagle did prevail.”