Developer’s land proposal doesn’t interest foundation
EDWARDS – A developer’s proposal for 185 acres of land in Edwards may have some fans, but the Vail Valley Foundation isn’t one of them. The foundation – which launched a fund-raising effort to preserve part of that parcel as open space – was shown Community Concepts’ proposal for the site, known as Eaton Ranch, on Friday. The developer’s proposal would give the foundation $6 million toward the $12 million fund-raising goal, would expand the proposed open space on the parcel and increase access to the Eagle River access from a half-mile to one mile. But their plan also calls for residential and commercial development on the parcel’s south side, and the foundation isn’t interested in being a part of that, said its president, Ceil Folz.”It didn’t take very much time for us to realize it really went against what we are trying to do with the Eaton Ranch property, which is to preserve open space,” Folz said Saturday afternoon. Folz, who couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, announced the foundation’s decision Saturday. But contrary to reports, the foundation had never considered the proposal, she said. Community Concepts’ Rick Hermes said Saturday he was surprised by news that the foundation was never interested in the offer.”I’m disappointed in there wasn’t at least a consideration of our offer,” he said. “It seems like a rush to judgment.”Hermes said he expected the foundation would have had some interest in gaining more public access to more open space and a decrease in its financial obligations. “I guess I would like my offer and my proposal on the table for future consideration,” he said. The foundation may consider the proposal if it falls short of meeting its fund-raising goal, but it would be a “last-ditch effort,” Folz said. The foundation has a contract on 72 acres on the eastern half of the site and has a year to come up with the $12 million purchase price. Community Concepts has a contract on about 110 acres on the western half of the parcel. The company has been eyeing that site for more than a year, Hermes said. While the developer’s offer may seem good at first glance, there are some problems, Folz said. Community Concepts has offered to give up about 80 acres that they have a contract on in exchange for 40 acres the foundation is interested in buying. But much of what the developer wants to give up is either a wetland or in a flood plain, which means it would be difficult if not impossible to build on, she said. “Our position is we really don’t want to be a part of that much growth,” Folz said. “Our intention was to refrain from that type of development.”The county commissioners have not taken an official stance on the issue, said County Commissioner Tom Stone. However, he supports the foundation’s decision, he said. The commercial and residential development Community Concepts proposed would put too much stress on Edwards’ roadways and, Stone said, the developer would be giving the foundation land he couldn’t use anyway. “In the future, it would be better if a developer like that would try to negotiate with the foundation and with the county before they decide to wage a campaign in the newspapers,” Stone said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or email@example.com.