Building restrictions don’t thrill planners | VailDaily.com

Building restrictions don’t thrill planners

Scott N. Miller

NWS Subdivision Ban PU 9-21

EAGLE – Steve Isom thinks a ban on new subdivisions is coming, and quickly.Isom was one of several local land planners who were invited to meet with the Eagle County Commissioners Tuesday to talk about the proposed ban. That ban, backed by commissioners Peter Runyon and Arn Menconi, would put at least a nine-month halt to any new building applications that would increase the number of residential units now allowed. The commissioners are set to hold their first public hearing on the subject on Oct. 4. Tuesday’s meeting was a chance for Runyon and Menconi – commissioner Tom Stone left the room before the meeting started – and staff to hear what the valley’s private land planners thought of the idea.Most came into the meeting opposed to the idea of a ban, and a presentation about the need for it didn’t change any minds.”I remain unconvinced about the need for this,” planner Rick Pylman said. “There are no big pending developments that justify it. This is valid when the sewer plants are overflowing.”Sid Fox, who worked for the county for many years before starting his own business, said the commissioners have other ways of tackling the problems they think the ban could ease.”You don’t have to do more to do your job,” Fox said.Runyon and Menconi vigorously defended their rationale for the ban. Using a 2003 study from the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, a regional lobbying group, the commissioners said they’re worried about the increasing number of second homes in the county.At this point, “80 percent of the applications we see are for second-home developments,” Menconi said.According to the study, as the number of second homes increases, so does the number of people commuting into the county for work.Citing figures that show second-home owners are the biggest contributors to the local economy, Menconi said the county needs to find ways to be less dependent on them.While most of the planners oppose the idea of a ban on new subdivisions, one spoke in favor.”We do only have 15 percent of the county in private land,” said Brian Sipes, an architect and Avon Town Council Member. “Someday we’ll be built out. Let’s catch our breath and figure out how long it’s going to take to get there.”Terrill Knight, who has worked in the valley for decades, said the ban could have some unintended consequences.”It might encourage bad projects forced through,” he said. Wrapping up the roughly 90-minute session, Menconi said the planners had made some good suggestions that might be added to the resolution the commissioners will take up Oct. 4. Ultimately, though, “The clear message we’ve heard is that people are concerned about growth,” Menconi said. Rewriting the county’s land-use regulations during the nine months proposed for the ban “is a matter of political will,” Menconi added.”We have to focus on priorities,” he said. “We need to make a clear statement that this is the year of land-use planning.”Which is why Isom believes the ban will pass, no matter what the commissioners hear in public meetings. “They’ve got their minds set on this,” he said. “It’s going to happen.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado