Eagle adds 100 acres east of town
EAGLE – The Town Board voted 4-2 to annex a 100-acre parcel of land on the east edge of town, setting the stage for consideration of a major new commercial development.The annexation precedes review of the proposed Eagle River Station project, a mixed-use commercial development at the end of Chambers Avenue. The developers of the project, Georgia-based Trinity Development, have not yet made an application to the town. However, early plans that have been shopped around the community call for 567,000 square feet of commercial space, a 250-unit hotel with a water park theme, 100 employee housing units, and space for a private school.Last year, the Town Board rejected a proposal for a big-box development on the site. Several of the same citizens who opposed that project were already voicing concerns at last week’s annexation hearing. There was input from some new sources, too.Most were concerned about the town’s decision to annex the property before a development plan has been submitted. In the past, the town has handled annexations and project reviews simultaneously.”What’s the rush?” asked Porter Wharton III, a resident of the Castle Peak Ranch development, north of Eagle. He suggested that the town sees itself in a competition for sales tax, which is driving land-use decisions. A Costco big-box store is under construction in Gypsum.”When short-term decisions are made, long-term vision is lost in competitive situations,” Wharton warned.Town Planner Bill Gray, however, said annexation before project review is the norm in Colorado towns, rather than the exception.”Only in Eagle is it unusual,” he said. He noted that the annexed land will be zoned “Resource” – the lowest possible use – until a development is approved. The annexation does not give development rights. The town has 90 days to decide on zoning.The lead developer, Vince Riggio, was pushing for annexation, because it allows him to proceed with formation of a special tax district. Riggio has indicated to town staff that he wants to see a decision on his development proposal by next May.Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney assured the audience that no decision has been made. He promised a “lengthy, detailed discussion.”Some audience members weren’t convinced. Eagle Ranch resident Richard Loth suggested that the town hold off on a decision until the 10-year-old Eagle Area Community Plan can be revised.”That irrigated hayfield is pretty nice,” he said. “Obviously, it doesn’t have to stay that way. The devil is in the detail.”County Commissioner Arn Menconi, who recently moved to Eagle from Avon, also voiced concerns. He urged the board to consider quality of life issues and the citizens’ future vision for Eagle.”If this is a game of chicken between two towns to get sales-tax revenues,” Menconi said. “What are we working for?”Edwards resident Rick Rolater, however, urged the Board to seize the opportunity to move the process along.”Don’t give up any choices – but get things on the table,” he said. “The reality is, this project ought to be operating in a year-and-a-half, instead of just talking about it in a year-and-a-half.”Stavney, Ed Woodland, Kraige Kinney, and Mikel Kerst voted for the annexation. Scott Hunn and Jay Bryant voted against it. Board member Steven Richards, who came into the meeting late, abstained.Jan Rosenthal Townsend, the owner of a small business in Eagle, questioned the “fast tracking” of the project.”Why the rush … you may be giving away the farm,” she said.Vail Colorado
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