Eagle Town Council amends code to make way for employee housing project
Council creates a path for joint project between Eagle County Schools and Habitat for Humanity
The Eagle Town Council took an important step forward Tuesday evening in paving the way for a joint employee housing project between Eagle County Schools and Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley.
Town Council members approved an amendment to a section of the town’s municipal code, which hindered the school district’s request to rezone 2.2 acres of its Eagle property for residential development before subdividing it.
The amendment approved Tuesday helped to eliminate some gray area that was bogging down the project’s application process, said Chad Phillips, Eagle’s Community Development Director.
“The problem that we have is the language left over from the mid-’80s was so unclear that (Eagle’s Planning and Zoning Commission) didn’t agree with staff” on how to move the project forward while adhering to the town’s code, Phillips said Tuesday. “And so, by adding this amended language, it does provide clarity and could enable us to move forward.”
The project’s planner Tom Braun first came before the Town Council in December to seek approval on two items — the rezoning of a portion of school district land to “medium-density residential” and a preliminary or “sketch” plan for the subdivision.
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The development would enlist the help of Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley in building 16 units of workforce housing that would be prioritized for Eagle County Schools employees, Braun explained at the December meeting.
The development is planned for the west end of the school district’s campus on Third Street and the units will be constructed in the form of eight duplexes, according to the sketch plan.
The additional housing would aid the district’s ability to recruit and maintain educators and other staff, Chief Operating Officer Sandra Mutchler said in the December meeting.
“We struggle a lot. We have an average right now of about 60 unfilled positions, and we’re getting jobs turned down on a regular basis just because of the cost of living and finding housing here,” Mutchler said then.
The Town Council approved the project’s sketch plan at the December meeting, but the rezoning request was tabled due to the discrepancy with the town’s municipal code.
The municipal code amendment approved Tuesday “will give us a path forward to get the land zoned sooner rather than later and … puts Habitat in a much better position to move this project forward,” Braun said in the meeting.
The school district and Habitat for Humanity are now empowered to invest in creating a more detailed rezoning and development plan for the project knowing that it is in line with town code, Braun said.
“When we met at the end of last year, we were really excited to continue the partnership with the school district and to be back in Eagle,” said Emily Peyton, who is the director of special projects for Habitat for Humanity. “… It’s really important for us to be good stewards of our donors’ money, and this will allow us to more effectively and efficiently complete the fundraising and development necessary for this project.”
The Town Council voted Tuesday to table the rezoning request once more, setting it out for the council’s Jan. 25 meeting at the advice of town attorney Matt Mire. At the Jan. 25 meeting, council members can vote to approve the rezoning request as well as the project’s development agreement, Mire said.
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