Eagle River Meadows passes first test | VailDaily.com

Eagle River Meadows passes first test

Scott N. Millersmiller@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Curtline: This 3-D conceptual drawing of Eagle River Meadows at Edwards shows building only on the south side of the Eagle River. A road is in the drawing just to show what it might look like if building on the north side of the river is approved.

EAGLE, Colorado – Now it’s time for some real work to start on the Eagle River Meadows proposal.After months of hearings, the Eagle County Commissioners Tuesday voted unanimously to grant initial, “sketch plan” approval to the Atira Development proposal. That proposal includes a combination of housing and medical office space on the old B&B Excavating gravel pit at Edwards.The developers and county officials will now start talking in detail about what companies might use the commercial space, the new jobs the proposal might bring to the valley, and just how many housing units will be built, and where.After wrestling with the issue over several meetings, the commissioners decided to keep development off the property on the north side of the Eagle River. Atira had first proposed as many as 240 homes on that side of the river, linked by a bridge to the rest of the property.Commissioner Jon Stavney said the continuing discussion about the north side had become an “impediment” to considering the project.”I really think the core opportunity is jobs, and the jobs aren’t on the north side,” Stavney said.While commissioners Peter Runyon and Sara Fisher agreed to consider just the south side at the moment, the parties aren’t finished talking about the north side of the property. Several options are still on the table, from the developers deeding the property to the county, to leaving the land in the developers’ hands and putting some sort of restriction on the property to bar future development.Also unresolved is whether or not there will be any kind of bridge across the river. Stavney said he favors a bridge that would allow emergency vehicles to cross the river there, but there may be just a pedestrian bridge to allow access to open space, or there may not be a bridge at all.Also up in the air, although less so than ultimate fate of the north side, is the final size of the development. While the sketch plan approval calls for 180 housing units and up to 260,000 square feet of medical campus space, that may change as the project chugs through the next stage of the approval process.Runyon stressed that “economic diversity” will be his focus as the project moves forward. And Fisher said she doesn’t want to approve a project just for the sake of approving it.”What I sure don’t want to see is an instigator for greater housing demand outside of Edwards,” Fisher said.Fisher added that people often talk about the “highest and best use” of property, which often means just how much building one parcel can hold.”The best project isn’t the highest possible density,” she said. “The best project is how the business plan will complement Eagle County and be a positive addition to our community.”

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