Commissioners delay plan for new homes up Lake Creek |

Commissioners delay plan for new homes up Lake Creek

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE – When is five big houses on 43 acres too much? When it’s on the Palmerosa Ranch up Lake Creek in Edwards.Neighbors, and their consultants, turned out Tuesday night to oppose developer Jim Comerford’s plan for five homes – and four “accessory” units – at the ranch. The opponents worried about elk migration, traffic, and other effects on their neighborhood.After more than 90 minutes of public comment and debate by elected officials, the Eagle County Commissioners voted 3-0 to delay action on the plan until Feb. 7 so Comerford could do more work on it. Some of that work may involve the Palmerosa’s neighbors.Neighbors around the ranch had vocally objected to the plan since it was proposed last summer. Some opposed the plan because of added traffic and people in the Lake Creek Valley.”I’m an opponent of Eagle County’s willingness to put affluence on display, especially up Lake Creek,” neighbor Steve Walker said.”You’re pounding a square peg into a round hole,” neighbor Kim West said of the plan. “It will have a huge impact on wildlife.”And wildlife was the most-mentioned objection to the project, and neighbors brought in a couple of experts, William Aldridge, a retired professor at Colorado State University, and Bill Heicher, a retired officer with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Both said they saw problems with Comerford’s plans for helping wildlife, especially elk.”All I see here is impact to elk migration,” Aldridge said. “This plan will preclude elk use of the property.”According to Aldridge, Heicher, and current Division of Wildlife Officer Bill Andree, elk in the area migrate from east to west, roughly from Beaver Creek and Arrowhead to roughly Cordillera and Bellyache Ridge. All said those elk are in danger because of human activity in the area.But Andree’s opinions about the development’s potential to further harm the elk were different.”The elk are in danger whether this goes in or not,” Andree said. That danger comes from fences on existing ranches, and more homes that could be built in the Lake Creek area.The ultimate answer, Andree said, was for the property owners in the Lake Creek Valley to work together to eliminate fences and put new buildings in areas that wouldn’t hamper the movement of wildlife.In the end, the commissioners weren’t swayed by arguments presented by Dominic Mauriello, representing Comerford.”More dwelling units take away from the character of the neighborhood,” Commissioner Tom Stone said.And, he added, the property as it was presented will further affect wildlife movement.Stone joined those who asked Comerford to better “cluster” or move the home sites closer together.Commissioner Peter Runyon said he hoped the property owners around the Palmerosa could work together to help wildlife.Mauriello said he and Comerford are willing to do just that.Staff writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555 ex. 14624, or at smiller@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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