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Eagle River Station: Where will employees, elk live?

EAGLE, Colorado ” Living space for both for employees and wildlife was the discussion topic for last week’s Eagle River Station public hearing.

Heidi Aggelar of BBC Research in Boulder presented an overview of the development’s 581 residential units, including an analysis of how Eagle River Station employees could afford to purchase homes in the area.

The Eagle River Station housing plan breaks down into three categories:

– Town of Eagle Local Employee Residency Program ” 10 percent of the units. This program mandates deed restricted employee housing, including a price appreciation cap. The price point is a $264,000 average cost for units ranging from 600 to 940 square feet.

– Workforce housing ” 20 percent of the units. These units would also have a deed restriction, based on local residency rather than a price cap. The price range for these units is $262,500 to $397,000 for units ranging from 700 to 1,060 square feet.

– Free-market ” These units would not carry any deed restrictions. Their price range is between $300,000 to $562,500 for units ranging from 800 to 1,3500 square feet.

Commission chairman Scott Turnipseed questioned if Eagle River Station would meet the housing demand presented by 2,000-plus, retail-wage employees. “How many units do 2,000 people generate and at what price point?” he asked.

Aggelar replied that not all Eagle River Station employees will be new to the area. And, she added, potential buyers would likely have two incomes ” a part of a married couple, for example ” to qualify for a mortgage.

Mike Haas of RED Development, one of the Eagle River Station developers, said none of his company’s current retail projects have an accompanying residential component. After interviewing several companies to find an appropriate partner to build the units, RED selected Land Development Services of Kansas City, Mo.

Terry O’Leary of Land Development Services told the commission the residential part of the proposal will be developed in phases, with an initial construction of 150 units. The initial phase would include a mix of the three housing types proposed.

“The goal is to set up a program that will address housing for the type of jobs created,” Eagle Town Planner Bill Gray said.

But Eagle resident Brandi Resa urged the commission members to use common sense in evaluating the housing proposal. She questioned whether retail workers could afford homes priced in the $350,000 range. She also noted that several units in the Red Canyon Townhomes project already on the market at that price have not sold.

Eagle-area resident Rosie Shearwood said she was shocked to learn the Eagle River Station housing plan called for 581 units on only 19 acres. She said the proposal was far too dense for Eagle.

Tom Boni of Knight Planning Services presented the Eagle River Station wildlife impact report compiled by Boulder-based wildlife biologist Sue Bonfield.

The report concludes that the Eagle River Station parcel is not critical wildlife habitat although it has become a favored winter range for elk. Boni noted traditional agriculture use of the property has attracted elk to the site.

Migratory paths through the property were also a central part of the wildlife report. Boni said with the construction of Interstate 70, north-to-south migration has already been significantly impacted and Eagle River Station would not exacerbate the situation.

Neighboring property owners offered a different take. Mary Houston Brown argued several wildlife species in the area were not addressed, including golden and bald eagles. She argued that while Eagle River Station might not impact animal migration to the north, it would certainly affect it to the south where animals routinely cross U.S. Highway 6 to get to the Eagle River.

“We are creating real human-wildlife conflict,” argued Shearwood. She said the entire meadow east of Eagle needs to be considered comprehensively, not piecemeal, for wildlife impacts.

Shearwood also questioned whether the proposed new Interstate 70 interchange would harm wildlife. She noted a new interchange would represent a break in the barrier fencing that borders I-70.

“I think it would be negligent not to be conscious of the animals’ safety,” said Shearwood.

The Eagle River Station public hearing before the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission will continue May 20 when the topic will be the project’s financial analysis.


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