Against lifestyle center in Eagle
Eagle, CO, Colorado
On behalf of the Citizens for the Future of Eagle, we will make this statement concerning John Cortez’s recent letter about Eagle River Station:
1) You have every right to want ERS or any other project, but you cited no reason why you want it. And we are in agreement about the “eyesores.” The pipe yard on Chambers is atrocious, and we also agree with fixing up Grand Avenue-U.S. Highway 6. Doing infill wherever we can is “smart growth,” and it’s a no-brainer. But what does that have to do with approving a mega mall at 62-foot heights at the gateway to town, essentially creating another “Town of Eagle?”
2) You have not been in attendance at every ERS meeting for two-plus years and listened intently to literally hundreds of hours of meetings like many of us have.
3) The five members of the Planning and Zoning Commission exemplified incredible due diligence and were indeed very “logical” in their reasoning for the denial of ERS.
They had many valid reasons, most of which were due to noncompliance with the 1996 Eagle Area Community Plan, which is the guiding master plan for land-use decisions under which this project is being judged. The Planning and Zoning Commission deliberated for months (actually, two years!) and came to several “logical,” fact-based conclusions. We find it absolutely astounding that you weren’t aware that they voted no to ERS. You pointed out that the Planning and Zoning Commission had voted no to this project once, when in fact they denied it twice ” once this year and once last year. And their vote does still stand from August, although the Town Council has ultimate voting power.
The commission’s reasons for finding noncompliance with the Eagle Area Community Plan:
– ERS is much too large and out of scale, creating another “town center,” which in turn is not in keeping with “small town character,” one of the most important guidelines within the EACP.
– Does not include all land privately held in the proposal.
– Does not mitigate impacts from Interstate 70 or potential impacts to the Eagle River (pollution from asphalt run-off).
– Does not “diversify the economy” nor contribute to the “sustainability” of the community.
– Does not transition to rural. The big-box retail is on the east end, near pasture land.
– No protection for (or mitigation of) various wildlife.
They also had numerous unanswered questions about feasibility, viability and the severe work-force shortage that is prevalent in the tri-county area, which has been daily news for months. Even though people are losing their jobs, most are people in the construction industry making good incomes. ERS would provide only low-paying retail-service jobs, which would not help the majority of people retain their current standard of living.
Besides, if ERS were approved, it’s at least two to three years out from opening. Those people who have lost jobs will either leave town (because they are forced to) or they will get another similar job when the market comes back.
The Planning and Zoning Commission also had numerous concerns about the housing ” whether it would sell and whether it should be phased. There is very little open space nor enough buffers when you look at the overall site plan.
No retailers have been named. Thus, the finances and their projections are a totally moot point, since there are no real financials to justify this project.
We have done our homework! They are basing their financials on prospective tenants on a 95 percent occupancy. Their own leasing agents have confirmed we’d be lucky to get a 50 percent to 60 percent occupancy. Many of the tenants on their list are in Chapter 11.
Your mention of the “non-voters being in the minority” is a totally false assumption. The ratio has been at least 10 to 1 opposition at most meetings, in articles to the papers and in e-mails to the board. We know because we monitor them. We also have a petition with more than 500 signatures. Most are voters. Many don’t speak up, but we know who they are and how they would vote. They’d vote no.
John, it pains us to think that our neighbors, folks like you, don’t want us (area residents and business owners) to have a voice in a project that would forever change Eagle as we all know it. It’s sad that people feel that way about others who live and work here.
Many of us are greatly affected by ERS regardless of our voting power. We travel on Eagle roads, shop at Eagle stores and eat at area restaurants. All of us have an Eagle post office box. Many have kids who attend school in Eagle. Many are on various boards. We contribute to numerous charities and benefits, attend most Eagle functions and events, pay taxes in Eagle and yes, some of us even pay triple property taxes since we own a business-commercial property. Not to mention having stores that add sales tax to the town coffers.
Many of us “non-residents” even helped to build the Eagle playground at Brush Creek Park. So aren’t we indeed stakeholders? Yes, we are! Upper Kaibab, Eby Creek, Brush Creek, Castle Peak Ranch, Diamond Star Ranch and other area residents are affected by anything that occurs on that land. Some are more affected than you who live in Eagle Ranch, which is buffered. Many of us have lived here for many years, and we all call Eagle “home.” We think it’s special and want to keep it special.
We’ve done a lot of research and we know ERS won’t be viable, especially in light of daily news that proves that shopping centers are going bankrupt daily because of our faltering economy. Malls and lifestyle centers are becoming obsolete. Besides, we don’t have the critical mass to support ERS. It may provide some tax dollars at some point in time, but at the end of the day, it won’t be enough money to have forever changed Eagle as we know and love it, and it won’t be sustainable. It’s just another shopping center.
Citizens for the Future of Eagle