Berry Creek housing rejected
Eagle County planning commission members say they like the Berry Creek 5th’s affordable housing plan<but they haven’t gotten the specific answers they’ve been looking for have recommended the plan be denied.”They had a number of questions that should have been answered,” said Eagle County Administrator Jack Ingstad. “The developer should have asked for a tabling.”The county is not required to go through any approval or review process for a project. But county officials decided the best way to handle the Berry Creek 5th project was to put every part of it through the same public process required of private developers. Most entities, like school districts, just decide on a location for a project and start construction.”The county doesn’t have to put itself through this, but the review process has created a better product,” said former planning commission chairman Arlene Quenon, whose final meeting dealt with this issue. “The Berry Creek 5th is going to be the heart of the Edwards community, a very visible entryway. We all agreed that this developer has done an excellent job on the project and the product design.”A New Mexico company, Auerbach Southwest, won the bid to construct the project. Vince Hooper did the presentation for the planning commission, and his failure to convince the planning commission left the company with some ground to cover before the proposal comes to the county commissioners on April 30. Auerbach Southwest’s president, Andrew Gerber, has been calling planning commission members to answer their concerns.”The planning commission members were asking questions about things like price information, which they have a right to know before they make a recommendation,” said Ingstad.While planning commission members liked the project, the devil was in the details<such as snow removal, traffic circulation, lighting in public places, home maintenance for multi-family units, and maintenance of common areas. “They’re the kinds of things you get into when you deal with higher-density projects,” said Quenon.A community center and daycare center weren’t specified in the plan.”We had been burned on that before,” recalled Quenon. “River Pines came in with an amended plan and built 12 or so more units, instead of the community center and daycare center the planning commission approved.”Auerbach Southwest wanted to start turning dirt next month, a dream Quenon said is pretty far-fetched. The infrastructure, water and sewer lines, as well as Miller Ranch Road, still must be built before housing construction can begin.The county’s engineering department also had a list of 32 deficiencies in the plan that needed to be addressed before it could be approved.Planning commission member John King lauded the plan and the idea of the county providing affordable housing for local workers. But, he said, whether or not the county has to go through this process, it’s not fair for a county project to not meet the same criteria a private developer would have to meet.The planning commission’s recommendation to deny is its second on the Berry Creek 5th project. In January, the commission voted to recommend denial of the entire Berry Creek project, too, saying it lacked the detail they needed to send it to the commissioners with a positive recommendation.The planning commission hears considers all land-use and development proposals introduced to the county. The seven-member panel helps applicants hammer out details before sending a plan to the three-member Board of County Commissioners with recommendations to either approve or deny it.The county commissioners, however, have the final say on land-use matters.The Berry Creek affordable housing project:? A partnership deal between Eagle County and Vail.? Would put about 285 housing units on the 31.5-acre site.? As it’s currently configured, the Berry Creek neighborhood would be a new urban design similar to the Eagle Ranch project in Eagle, combining single-family homes, row houses, lofts and duplexes along urban-style streets with alleys and detached garages.? Some of the homes would be rentals, while others will be for-sale units.? 222.7 total acres.? 35.8 acres of active recreation, such as ball fields, play areas, a possible ice arena and/or a recreation center.? 50.2 acres of open space.? 77.9 acres of school facilities. In addition to the existing Berry Creek Middle School and Eagle County Charter Academy, it will include at least one more middle school and one more elementary school.? Right now, a 41-acre high school site is occupied by the Berry Creek Equestrian Center. The unwritten gentlemen’s agreement allows them to stay until the school district builds a high school there.
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