Developer pushes for Heritage Park
County staff planners recommended approval of the project with some conditions, but the Planning Commission in May recommended denial of a preliminary plan for 24 single-family homes near Homestead. The project comes to the county commissioners Tuesday for a final decision.
“We have tremendous support through the Eagle County Master Plan draft and the Edwards Community Plan, which were supported by county residents,” says developer Jim Guida. “The issue isn’t what neighbors want but what the community adopted by supporting those plans.”
Homestead neighbors have sent county planners more than 100 letters opposing the project, citing density and traffic issues.
Density was one of the problems several planning commissioners cited when they voted against recommendation.
But the draft of the Eagle County Master Plan calls the 11-acre parcel known as the Allen Tract a “community center” area. That density allows 3 to 12 units per acre, which is higher than the 2.1 units per acre proposed by Guida. The Edwards Community Plan, also pending approval, calls the parcel “medium suburban,” allowing a density of 2 to 2.5 units per acre.
“We’re creating a neighborhood that fits with the surroundings and close to the community center,” Guida said.
The surrounding density is 2.5 units per acre to the north, 4.9 units per acre to the south, and 1 unit per 14 acres at Green Ranch, west of Heritage Acres.
Guida asked the Planning Commission four times to delay a vote on the project, which county staff earlier said wasn’t compatible with the character of surrounding land uses. The initial project consisted of 44 units – 18 of which were lock-offs.
Guida resubmitted the plan in April, which now has 24 single-family home sites instead of the 26 units previously proposed.
“Planning Commissioner Ken Nuebecker has called Heritage Park “a nice project but in the wrong place,’ ” Guida said. “This parcel is a designated medium density suburban area. If this project doesn’t go here, where should it go?”
Matt Gennett, who now works for Vail but was the county planner who reviewed the project, said the public has seen the map of the county’s master plan draft in public meetings and never disagreed with its contents.
“But since the master plan hasn’t been adopted yet, it’s not an official judging policy,” he added.
Neighbors of the proposed project argue that the traffic problem could be the width of Allen Circle, a narrow access road off Homestead Drive and the only proposed entrance to the development.
County engineers, however, determined a traffic study showed the road is adequate.
Guida said he can’t reduce density because of the cost of construction and complying with county’s affordable-housing regulations. He would have to provide two units of affordable housing – on site or off site – as part of the project and also pay some money to the school district.
“As people move into Edwards, you need to provide them with homes,” Guida says. “This is an “infill’ parcel, and developing there will help reduce urban sprawl.”
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.