Commissioners consider road to remote property near Edwards
EAGLE, Colorado – Margie Stephens is worried about her backyard.
Stephens lives in the Moonridge subdivision, just north of the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards. She and other residents are wary of a proposal by developer Michael English to widen and pave a U.S. Forest Service road that runs behind their homes. The road – a bit more than five miles long – would provide access to 680 acres of private property surrounded by Forest Service property.
English has plans to divide the property into 19 parcels of 35 acres or more. That plan – similar to the Diamond Star property east of Eagle – could be built without approval from Eagle County. The road is another matter, though.
The U.S. Forest Service is required by law to provide access to landowners whose property is surrounded by public land. At the federal level, the request for the paved road will have to pass a review under the National Environmental Policy Act.
But Forest Service officials first want to know if the county will approve a handful of variances from its standards to allow the road to be widened and paved.
The project won’t create a new boulevard – the proposed road calls for two paved lanes, each 10 feet wide, flanked on each side by a 3-foot shoulder.
But the prospect of a paved road has Stephens and some of her neighbors worried about what that will do to their backyards.
“We never wanted to live near Mountain Star (in Avon) because of the road,” Stephens said. “I like the quiet.”
Fellow Moonridge resident Kevin Moriarity told the commissioners he’s worried about possible problems from a paved road draining downhill into his and his neighbors’ yards.
“I’m afraid my backyard will become a flood,” he said.
Bill Andree of the Colorado Division of Wildlife told the commissioners he’s worried about the road’s effects on wildlife in the area. Maps have identified the area in and around the private land as winter habitat for deer and elk. Andree said putting a year ’round, paved road through the area could create real problems, especially if snowplowing creates a kind of canyon because of snow piled high along the shoulders.
But others at the meeting said they’d welcome the work Berlaimont Estates could create.
Project planner Kent Sharp said the project could create $206 million in new economic activity and the equivalent of more than 1,300 full-time jobs during the nine years estimated to build all the homes.
“The county could really use the work for our construction workers,” Brian Redinger said.
And local excavator Scott Davis said the plans he’s seen will actually ease the effects of the road on Moonridge residents.
“You have to balance the needs of the property owner against those of the residents,” Davis said. “When the road is moved, the residents will be happier. They’ll be far away from any activity that occurs.”
Since it was the first time they’d heard the details of the request, the commissioners voted to give themselves another two weeks to consider the plan and what, if any, changes should be made.
Commissioner Jon Stavney said one of his biggest concerns is a letter from the Eagle River Fire Protection District, now six months old. Stavney said that letter didn’t address what he’d like to know about the district’s opinion of the road and what effects the new homes might have.
The commissioners will tackle the subject again at their Oct. 19 meeting. The hearing will also have more time for public comment.