Building ban talk concerns tradesman
EAGLE COUNTY – Mark Beagley is conflicted.On one hand, Beagley, the owner of Superior Drywall in Eagle, is worried about what might happen to his business if Eagle County imposes a temporary ban on building new subdivisions.But as a lifelong resident, he thinks it might be time for at least some sort of break in the once again feverish pace of building in the county.”I think it would affect all of us,” Beagley said. “But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”The Eagle County Commissioners will start debating a possible ban on new subdivisions Oct. 4. Commissioner Peter Runyon, perhaps the leading proponent of the ban, calls it a “necessary” break while the county revises its land use regulations.”The key is that we need to review all our land use policies,” Runyon said. “Everyone needs to know what the rules are. It’s a matter of fairness to everyone concerned.”Given that the construction and real estate businesses make up a large part of the local economy, Runyon expects more than one hearing will be held before the commissioners vote on the ban.”Clearly we need to have public input,” he said, adding that “nothing is a foregone conclusion.”Runyon claims the effects of a ban would be minimal, since the ban would only apply to changing a piece of land’s zoning to allow more homes to be built. And, he added, the commissioners would be able to approve small subdivisions where the property owners can prove it would be a “hardship” to wait for the ban to expire.”It would be a minimal inconvenience,” he said.A local real estate broker disagrees.”This idea is not a new thing,” said Tom Harned, who has been in the local real estate business long enough to have seen several up and down cycles.”Most recently it happened in Boulder and Aspen, with predictable results,” he said. “It drove prices through the roof, and pretty much eliminated entry-level housing.”The building ban in the Aspen area affected Beagley’s business, and slowed down Ian Hunter’s business as well.Hunter, who has carpenters working in Bachelor Gulch for Keep Construction, said a temporary ban on new subdivisions could force him to find work somewhere else.”We’d just go where the market is better,” Hunter said.While there would still be building sites available in the county during a ban, Hunter said the price of that land would probably go up, perhaps creating more demand for work on high-end homes.While Hunter might move, Beagley is sticking around. If business slows down much, he said, he could be forced to lay off some of his crew.A ban in Aspen “really did affect the amount of work we had there,” Beagley said.But, Beagley said, a cautious approach might be for the best.”I think it might be better to say ‘no’ know and change your mind later than to say ‘yes’ and regret it,” he said. “I think it’s better to err on the safe side.”For Harned, though, the safe thing to do is not ban new subdivisions, even temporarily.”It’s poor business planning,” he said. “It’s not fair to property owners, and the right of people to entry level housing would be gone.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado
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