Eagle: $1.3 million for horse-pasture housing? | VailDaily.com

Eagle: $1.3 million for horse-pasture housing?

EAGLE, Colorado ” Eagle County is moving forward with a plan to buy 5 acres of land near Eagle for affordable housing at a price of $1.275 million.

Last week, Forest Service official Randall Karstaedt signed off on a decision to sell the “horse pasture” land. After 45-day appeal period, the county and the Forest Service will move toward a contract, with the county commissioners getting final say over whether to sign off on a deal.

That won’t happen until November at the earliest, said County Housing Director Alex Potente.

The county may also buy another 3-acre Forest Service parcel that’s next to the horse pasture, Potente said, and the county already owns 5 contiguous acres, where there’s a road and bridge facility. Nearby property owners could be involved in a redevelopment, too, he said.

But one candidate for county commissioner says the purchase wouldn’t be a good idea.

“With the economy going the way it’s going now and the way they’re spending money, I don’t think they’ve taken into consideration how everyone is tightening their belts while they’re spending public money,” said Dick Gustafson, who is running for county commissioner.

Gustafson said he’s not sure if the project will be considered with sufficient public input.

“They’ll probably do it without public approval to boot,” he said.

Gustafson said he suspects the county’s housing authority may threaten to condemn land as part of the proposed redevelopment.

But Potente said that’s not been discussed or contemplated.

“There is no consideration of using condemnation,” Potente said.

Gustafson’s opponent in the November county commissioner election, incumbent Peter Runyon, said the deal has benefits, but the “devil is in the details on a project like this.”

Runyon said the project would connect east Eagle and west Eagle.

“In-fill development is good development,” Runyon said.

The county will evaluate the price to make sure it’s fair, he said.

“We will basically do our due diligence, and if it’s too much, the deal will fall apart,” Runyon said.

Midvalley commissioner candidate Jon Stavney, a former Eagle mayor, said he supports the project for several reasons. One, it provides a connection between neighborhoods, the so-called Bull Pasture Bypass, that has been sought for decades, he said. Also, he supports the affordable housing and in-fill development that the project would create, he said.

“I think it’s a win-win situation for all,” he said.

But the county must make sure the community supports the project, and the development must fit into the community, Stavney added.

Stavney’s opponent, Debbie Buckley, said she has several questions about the project, including what neighbors think of a proposed redevelopment.

Buckley said she’d also would like to know where the county would get the $1.275 million to pay for the land. In addition, she was concerned about traffic impacts to Eagle of a new development, she said.

Randy Parker of the Forest Service said the sale of the 5-acre horse pasture will allow the agency to move forward with plans to acquire a new property for offices and housing ” perhaps at the county-owned fairgrounds.

Eagle Town Planner Bill Gray could not be reached Friday.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.

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