County may buy Edwards gravel pit |

County may buy Edwards gravel pit

Melanie WongVail, CO Colorado

EDWARDS, Colorado A 105-acre property just west of the Eagle River Preserve open space in Edwards could be the countys next affordable housing buy.The Eagle County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 last week to make an offer to B&B Excavating for the land, most of which is now a gravel pit. The county is still negotiating with B&B and with Midtown Group developers, who have the first option to purchase the land.County officials would not say how much the bid was for. The decision to make the offer was not published on the boards agenda, and voted on right after an executive session. Executive sessions are closed-door meetings where officials can discuss real estate negotiations or personnel matters.The property has about 25 acres of developable land along Interstate 70 and Highway 6, and another 80 acres that can be built on if the land is filled in, County Commissioner Peter Runyon said.The land could have a number of uses, said Commissioner Sara Fisher, including affordable homes or open space.My support (of the offer) is to be in control of that parcel, then we can decide what the best uses and planning for it are, she said.Commissioner Peter Runyon was the dissenting vote. He opposed the offer because there was no chance for the public to weigh in on the decision.Before we commit such a large sum of the peoples money (to a decision) which has the potential to completely alter the character of the neighborhood, we need the light of public scrutiny. We need the public dialogue as to where taxpayers housing dollars are best spent, he said to members of the Eagle Valley Land Trust in an e-mail.Also, the land is too expensive at nearly $500,000 per developable acre, and there are better places to build affordable housing, Runyon said.While one of the countys top priorities is workforce housing, this land purchase is not the right buy, he said.Edwards currently has traffic issues that affect the quality of life, especially with four new schools planned in Miller Ranch and the upcoming West End project, which will bring condos and businesses to the Edwards core, he wrote. Edwards is already big enough.Any decision to actually purchase the land would have to go to public comment and be voted on in an open session. Fisher said she did not think the decision would be rushed. If the county bought the land, building would not happen for years, she said.Its not on the fast track. We know we have traffic concerns and were looking at different options to alleviate that, she said.The county is also looking at sites for affordable housing in Wolcott, the Eagle area and Avon, where Traer Creek developer Magnus Lindholm owns land. The county is also looking for opportunities to buy existing free-market homes to resell as affordable housing.Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or

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