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A plan for Edwards

Veronica Whitney

The Eagle County Planning Commission, responsible for adopting master plans, has approved a resolution adopting the new Edwards Area Community Plan.

After several public hearings, the Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan, an advisory document to guide the Planning Commission and the Board of County Commissioners in making decisions on future developments. Now it’s up to the Board of County Commissioners to decide whether to adopt the plan. And even then, land-use regulations remain the law of the land, said Rebecca Leonard, project manager and senior planner with the Eagle County Community Development Department.

“This is a low-density plan,” Leonard said. “Although a lot of Edwards has been built already, or has approval to be built, several areas have received development pressures. We presented four alternatives; the final plan has parts of each.”



The Edwards Area Community Plan, an update of the 1985 Edwards Sub-Area Master Plan, will guide land use, transportation, water, housing, economic development, recreation and open space in the Edwards community.

The new plan, however, hasn’t changed much from the old plan, Leonard said.



“The old plan has been a good plan. This one goes into more detail,” she said. “The goals and objectives in the new plan are an addition to the former plan.”

Density had been one of the sticking points in developing the new plan, Leonard said. Robert Warner, a member of the Edwards Area Community Plan Update Committee, which helped develop the plan, had proposed a limit on density of one housing unit per acre; the county, on the other hand, proposed four units per acre. The highest maximum residential density in the final plan is eight units per acre, down from the 12 originally proposed, Leonard said.

“With this plan, most density is centralized around the intersection of Spur Road and (U.S.) Highway 6, considered the community center,” Leonard said.



The plan designates:

– The floodplain of the Eagle River as open space.

– The Lake Creek Valley as a rural character area.

– The area by the Woodland Hills development as medium density, or three to six units per acre.

– The area behind the Eagle River Village mobile home park as open space.

– Everything else as “transitional use,” or recreation and open space.

“This is a balanced plan,” said Peter Bergh, president of the Berry Creek Metro District.

For Warner, the approved density is too high.

“I would have gone for a maximum of two units per acre,” he said. “Singletree’s density, for example, is two units per acre. Homestead is one.”

Dave Lach, a member of the Edwards Metro District board of directors, said the approved density is appropriate.

“Some sites deserve higher density around the community center,” Lach said. “High density west to the trailer park makes sense.”

A telephone survey of 700 residents in Edwards conducted last year by Eagle County said that traffic is the No. 1 issue in Edwards. Other issues include protecting open space and building affordable housing.

“Eagle County has hired traffic consultants who will be using this plan as their benchmark as they develop traffic plans for Highway 6,” Leonard said.

Although the new plan is a very low-density one, it has some previsions to encourage affordable housing, Leonard said.

Highlights of the proposed Edwards Area Community Plan

Water

– Adequate potable water and sanitary sewer service for existing and proposed development.

– Protecting surface water and groundwater.

– Conserving water through reuse and other methods.

Land use

– A limit on density of four units per acre.

– The protection of natural resources and environmental systems.

– Balanced growth through designating adequate acreage for residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural uses.

– The protection of social, cultural and historical resources.

– The regulation of excavation activities.

Transportation

– Future connector roads.

– Modes of transportation that protect the environment.

– Completion of the Eagle County trail system within the Edwards area.

– Improved public transportation.

Housing

– Affordable housing based on the Eagle County Comprehensive Housing Plan and the Eagle County Master Plan.

– A variety of housing types, sizes and value.

– Housing that’s close to employment and community centers.

Open space

– Preserving Edwards’ most environmentally sensitive lands as open space.

– Determining the most valuable ecological and cultural elements for each proposed development site.

On the Web: http://www.eagle-county.com

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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