Commissioners enact environmental protections for Eagle County
Vail CO, Colorado
The Eagle County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to provide additional, significant protections for public lands and resources in the county. The decisions help protect federal land from development if it is sold, and safeguard the county’s water resources.
The board voted to create a new Resource Preservation zone district in the county. The zone district applies to all United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land located within unincorporated Eagle County. The purpose of the Resource Preservation zone district is to preserve the open character and public benefits of land in the county that is owned by the Federal Government in the event the property is sold to private parties.
“I just believe that this gives us tools to better manage our land growth and development,” said Commissioner Peter Runyon.
The new regulations disallow certain land uses if the Federal Government sells the land, and requires county approval for other uses which may negatively impact the scenic quality and open character of the property. The Resource Preservation zone district limits residential development to one dwelling unit per 80 acres.
“I think this is an interesting land use tool to add to our regulations,” said Commissioner Arn Menconi. “It will help us make sure the local community has a say in how land is being developed.”
The Resource Preservation zone district does not apply to the Holy Cross and Eagle’s Nest Wilderness areas, which retain the more restrictive Backcountry zone district designation.
“This is a pro-active move on the part of Eagle County and will be enacted only if federal lands are sold or exchanged to private entities,” said Commissioner Sara Fisher. “Subjecting these parcels and future development proposals to review and approval through our land use procedures affords us the opportunity to make sure that proposed uses are in concert with the surroundings and won’t negatively impact these precious resources.”
In addition, the board passed a resolution directing staff to amend county land use regulations to preclude water or sewer projects that would deplete the streams or groundwater aquifers within or upstream from wilderness areas.
The move was in response to recent attempts by the cities of Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs to develop water diversion projects in wilderness areas within Eagle County.
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