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Board of County Commissioners

Melanie Wong
Vail CO, Colorado

What happened? The Eagle County Regional Airport’s photovoltaic solar energy system is in a holding pattern thanks to a delay in getting federal funds.

Federal investment tax credits would provide about $1.5 million for the $5 million system. However, Congress hasn’t approved next year’s funds for renewal energy projects, meaning Eagle County’s project cannot go forward yet.

Most of the contractors for the project, which would provide 60 percent of the airport’s electricity, will not get on board without the assurance of the federal funds, said Adam Palmer, community development planner for the county.

“If we were breaking ground this month, everyone is certain it would be completed prior to year’s end,” he said. “However, getting the financial partner to write the check for $5 million with even a small level of uncertainty regarding uncontrollable factors which could delay the project into 2009 is difficult.”

If the tax credits are not approved for 2009, the airport project could die before ever taking off, Palmer said.

He said he hopes Congress can come to an agreement and get the approvals signed this fall.

“At any rate we’re still moving forward and are planning on an October

groundbreaking,” he said. ” We’re only waiting for an act of Congress to do it.”

What is it? The development regulations were added to the county’s land use regulations by commissioners this Tuesday. The regulations require all major residential and commercial developments to meet certain environmentally and community friendly standards.

Developers get points for including things like adding bicycle storage, building compactly, providing public access to trails or public lands, being pedestrian friendly, or minimizing light pollution.

The idea is that developments need to get a certain number of points to get county approval, but there are no penalties for not meeting the standards, and approval is left up to the discretion of the board of commissioners, said community development staff Adam Palmer.

What does it mean? Palmer said the index will help guide developers so they know what the county is looking for.

“We can reduce some uncertainty from a developer’s standpoint, and the community will get a better project,” he said.

The regulations are the first of its kind.

“We’re pushing the envelope a on this,” Palmer said. “I haven’t been able to find another program like this (in other towns and counties. We look forward to sharing it with other municipalities.”


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