Eagle County launches Edwards RiverPark review this week | VailDaily.com

Eagle County launches Edwards RiverPark review this week

This artist's rendering depicts the amphitheater and retail plaza proposed as part of the Edwards RiverPark plan.
Special to the Daily

The Edwards RiverPark proposal will launch its public review process on Wednesday with its first hearing before the Eagle County Planning Commission.

A site visit for commission members is planned at 4 p.m. on Wednesday followed the project’s initial public hearing which is slated to begin at 6 p.m.

The Edwards RiverPark proposal covers a 53.27-acre parcel located north of U.S. Highway 6 and west of the Eagle River Preserve in an area that was formerly part of the B&B Excavation gravel mining operation. The planned unit development sketch/preliminary plan application proposes a mixed-use project that includes residential units and 56,500 square feet of commercial space. Proposed uses include single-family and multi-family residential, hotel and retail uses, active and passive recreation and open space areas.

The residential density proposed at the site is 594 units which includes:

  • 182 hotel/condo units, 100 of which would have lock-off capacity.
  • 255 for sale condo units, 10 of which would be deed-restricted for local buyers only
  • 100 deed-restricted, multi-family rental units
  • 37 townhomes
  • 20 duplex units

That breakdown represents a substantive change from the original Edwards RiverPark plan presented last year. The idea of charging a 1% real estate transfer fee on all property transfers, with the money directed to Eagle County’s housing fund was originally proposed as the development’s workforce housing solution. The new plan includes on-site housing in addition to the fee, which would be charged on all free-market homes sales and short-term rental uses.

The project calls for the construction of a new $5.6 million roundabout at U.S. Highway 6 at its entrance and an additional $2.2 million in traffic impact fees. The application calls out 31 acres of open space that will be placed in a conservation easement and wildlife movement corridors through the site. Proposed site amenities include a community amphitheater, public trails and fishing access.

In its review of the plan, Eagle County planning staff has recommended approval of the plan subject to 24 conditions. The Edwards RiverPark development team has stated that it has already agreed to comply with the majority of those conditions.

Following its review, the Eagle County Planning Commission will issue its own recommendation regarding the plan and then forward the proposal to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners for final action.

Issues of contention

Since its introduction more than a year ago, opponents of the Edwards RiverPark plan have cited traffic impacts, density, building heights and compatibility issues with the proposal.

“As a member of the group of Edwards residents who collectively contributed hundreds of hours assisting Eagle County to revise the Edwards Area Community Plan in 2016, I feel this proposal is contradictory to many, many aspects that our group envisioned for the future of Edwards as outlined in the final document,” said Edwards resident Chris Neuswanger.

Neuswanger maintains that Eagle County is required by its own regulations to ensure any land use changes substantially follow area community plans.

“We strove to outline a future path to ensure responsible growth in terms of population, traffic and the local economy while protecting the environment and ambiance,” Neuswanger continued. “We wanted to maintain the sense that Edwards was a true hometown community. We did not envision anything even close to the scale and density of this and specifically stated in the plan that (amongst other goals) that new development in West Edwards should serve the local residents.”

COVID-19 Public hearings

The Edwards RiverPark public hearings are the first large-scale project to come before the county since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. That means the process will look different that traditional county land use hearings.

The county’s official public meeting and hearing procedures, adopted at the end of May, limit the number of people who can be physically present at the county hearing room to a total of 50. Members of the public are required to sign up in advance if they plan to attend to ensure the meeting does not exceed the room capacity.

A series of three public hearings before the planning commission is anticipated for the Edwards RiverPark and all hearings will be televised and recorded and accessible viewing at ECGTV.

On Tuesday, the county announced that it has made additional provisions for public comment regarding the Edwards RiverPark Plan.

This story has been updated

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