D.R.: Attorneys gone amok, or NIMBYs?
Recently, I was visited by some Homestead property owners seeing the worst in the budding West End development, which would replace the trailer park next door to the Gashouse in Edwards and butt up against the Eaton Ranch open space site.
Then I got a phone call from someone else, and an anonymous mailing.
All so very mysterious, full of hints about Eagle County’s government gone nefarious. Especially the county attorneys. Ohmygod, they are out of control. That was the gist of all the contacts.
Deep breaths, folks.
The county attorneys, at the direction of the politicians, have been aggressive in finding ways to add to the affordable housing stock at this development. And it’s easy to read the worst into it, if you read a memorandum dated May 18 from Brian Bair, a partner in the development, to an assistant county attorney, Alex Potente.
The note talks of “expedited” approvals of the development crediting of road impact fees to a roundabout and waiving general impact and permit fees for “workforce units” at the West End development.
The county also would add West End condos to the stock of housing it manages, no doubt much like it does now with Miller Ranch.
But the public process will go through the full Monty. The county Planning Commission is expected to devote the better part of Wednesday to the project. And the reason Homestead leaders know about the plans is they’ve been briefed.
The big problem seems to the that dreaded D word, density. The county aims to increase density to get more “affordable” housing units out of this development.
Typically, the neighbors don’t much care for density, even if that’s a standard planning tool for improving on the affordable housing stock.
The Urban Land Institute mentions density as a crucial part of the toolbox in their recent report for Eagle County. They also warn that the neighbors might rise up against it.
Which pretty much is happening here. It’s not the lawyers gone crazy (although they do seem more aggressive than usual). It’s not the county officials trying to pull a fast one here.
Such intrigue might be more fun. But no, this is standard NIMBY ” Not In My Back Yard.
The neighbors should have a say in what happens in Edwards, the largest non-community in the county, at least in the incorporated sense.
The county commissioners will have an interesting time with this project, an early opportunity to put some of the Urban Land Institute’s advice into action.
So the question really is what’s more important, the wishes of the Homestead neighborhood to be untroubled by more neighbors than they were counting on or the larger county community and its need for more affordable housing options?
I’m eager to see how this plays out.