Eagle County approves road variance for Edwards development
December 12, 2013
EAGLE — After two meetings to discuss the proposal and a site visit to gain perspective of the plan, on Tuesday the Eagle County commissioners unanimously approved a series of variances allowing a single access road to the proposed Berlaimont Estates subdivision north of Interstate 70 at Edwards.
What that means is now the actual development proposal will go through a U.S. Forest Service approval process.
Berlaimont Estates is proposed at a 680-acre in-holding parcel surrounded by Forest Service land. Owners Petr Lukes and Jana Sobotova have proposed 19 units and nine accessory units on 35-acre or larger parcels in the area. Because of the land's in-holding location, the Forest Service must review the development, but before embarking on that extensive and expensive process, the Berlaimont team presented a variance request to Eagle County to determine if a single access road could service the 19 homes. Eagle County's regulations require dual access roads for developments featuring four or more homes.
Beth Ayres Oliver, Eagle County assistant attorney, cautioned the commissioners that they needed to focus their review and comments solely on the road variance issue, not the larger issue of the development plan itself. The larger development issues will be vetted during the Forest Service process.
Dual access plan
According to Dominic Mauriello, a planner representing the Berlaimont team, the Forest Service would likely oppose a dual access plan, so if the county was not in favor of a variance, then the plan would likely face trouble at the Forest Service review.
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"This is just the first step for us," Mauriello said. "If we are approved here we still have an extensive process to go through."
The heart of the Berlaimont variance proposal maintains that extensive mitigation efforts would be as effective as a second access in the event of a wildfire emergency.
"I really think we have done an extraordinary job of mitigating the need for a secondary access," Mauriello said.
He noted the single access road would be paved and that the combination of fire mitigation plans, limits on accessory units and other conditions attached to the variance would result in a safe single access plan.
When the commissioners launched their discussion of the plan, they noted that documentation from various county and Eagle River Fire Protection District officials indicated that the mitigation plan outlined would meet or exceed what a dual access on its own could accomplish.
After a brief recess to review the documentation, the commissioners returned to approve the road variances in a unanimous vote, under the condition that the various mitigation procedures are completed as presented.