Eagle Town Council postpones vote on change to Haymeadow development
Town Council asks for more information on project timeline, pushes development team to move as swiftly as possible to bring more affordable housing to the area
The Eagle Town Council postponed a vote on a significant amendment to the Haymeadow development plan, asking developers to come back with more specifics on the project’s timeline and to add a few things to sweeten the deal for the town.
The Haymeadow project, which aims to construct 837 homes in the area just east of the Eagle Pool & Ice Rink, has asked the town to modify their planned unit development (PUD) agreement to better accommodate the construction of 72 multi-family units in the first phase of development set to start in the spring of 2022.
The project’s developers are seeking to swap a 6.5-acre plot of town-owned land near the heart of their planned development in exchange for 8 acres of land they own in another area. It’s a big ask, but they say it will allow them to bring affordable, multi-family housing to Eagle residents sooner.
After a thorough discussion, Town Council members said developers need to address a few key things before they put the matter to a vote. The amendment is now set for a vote at the Nov. 9 Town Council meeting.
“Before considering a vote, the Town Council asked us to craft language regarding five specific terms that we are working with town staff to craft acceptable language around,” Brandon Cohen, president of Abrika Properties, LLC, said in a written statement Wednesday. Abrika Properties is the owner of the Haymeadow project.
“All of the terms are acceptable to us and in line with our common goal of getting attainable home building targeted towards local residents started next spring at Haymeadow,” Cohen said in the statement.
First, the Town Council asked the project’s developers for more specific and clearer language around when the first units of affordable housing would be finished and ready for residents.
Along with this, Town Council members pushed developers to accelerate their timeline for a new roundabout that will be built on Sylvan Lake Road near Brush Creek Road.
Currently the Haymeadow development plan stipulates that the roundabout will be constructed and ready for public use before the “issuance of the first temporary certificate of occupancy for a residence in the first approved subdivision,” according to a presentation given by town staff at Tuesday’s meeting.
The project’s land planner Rick Pylman later clarified that this refers to the first certificate of occupancy issued for a home in the 6.5 acres the project is seeking to get from the town in the swap.
Eagle Mayor Scott Turnipseed requested that it be done sooner.
The roundabout project will require them to extend Brush Creek Road and build out two new lanes to join into the roundabout, which amounts to a lot of time-consuming “permitting and engineering” work, Pylman said.
It constitutes “a major realignment of Sylvan Lake Road and Brush Creek Road” and has “major wetland impacts” they will need to accommodate, said Gary Brooks of Alpine Engineering, who is working on the project.
After some back and forth, Brooks said they could likely commit to having it done within three years following the approval of the amended development plan.
This must mean they are not planning on having the first units on the 6.5-acre plot move-in ready for another three years, Turnipseed pointed out.
Pylman confirmed this. They want to get started right away and “will guarantee the start of construction of at least 24 units within 12 months of approval of this application,” he said. They will then commit to starting construction on 24 units each year for the following two years with a total of 72 units under construction within the first 36 months.
Still, they are looking at about a three-year build for each batch of units, he said.
“I don’t think in all my years of doing this I’ve ever been in this position,” Mayor Turnipseed said to Pylman. “It’s always been the developer begging the town to go faster so they can build, and now the town is wanting you to go faster to build.”
The third term the developers will need to satisfy in the next few weeks is to provide information on how soon they can build up the necessary infrastructure around the 8 acres of land they are offering to the town in the proposed swap.
Currently, the land does not have full access to utilities like water and electricity, which has led many residents who oppose the amendment to say the proposal is not an even trade. In the presentation by town staff Tuesday night, Community Development Director Chad Phillips categorized public comments opposing the amendment into a few main categories with comments that the town would swap valuable land for less valuable land as one of them.
The developers are promising to build up infrastructure on the 8-acre site to make it a more useful plot of land for the town, but Town Council members said they want guarantees that it will happen in a timely manner.
The current language around the timing of phase 1 of the project just says that site planning on the 8 acres would begin immediately and work to bring infrastructure to the site “would likely begin in two to three years,” according to town staff’s presentation.
The Town Council discussed including repercussions for not meeting various deadlines in the new plan, something Pylman referred to as “performance guarantees.”
Next, Turnipseed told developers he wanted to see an additional 30 units of affordable housing finished in the first phase of the project.
The first phase already promises the construction of approximately 200 units over the next five to six years, according to town staff’s presentation.
Finally, the Town Council asked that language be added into the plan specifying that the planned units will be available for sale to residents, not for rent. This was already the developers’ intention, but they requested that it be laid out in the plan more clearly.
They also want to ensure that units are prioritized for Eagle residents specifically, rather than being set aside for Eagle County residents. The units will be made available to county residents only in instances where there are no pending applications from town residents, Pylman said.
The amendment was opposed by the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which serves as an advisory committee to the Town Council. The Commission recommended against approving the amendment by a vote of four to two.
Town staff, on the other hand, supports the amendment.
Eagle Town Council member David Gaboury pointed out that the proposal the Planning and Zoning Commission voted on looked very different than what it will look like with the changes the Town Council requested in Tuesday’s meeting.
“What we are developing here brings more benefit than what they voted on to the town,” Gaboury said in an interview Wednesday.
“I was pleased with [the developers] being open and I think these additions are really helpful to the town,” he said.
The Haymeadow team initially proposed a more aggressive swap to exchange 18 acres of its property for 14 acres of property that was slated to be used for a future school. This move was opposed by many residents in the area as well as Mountain Recreation, the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council.
Pylman said they have spent a lot of time trying to better understand the concerns of residents and other stakeholders and believe this new, more modest plan addresses all those concerns.
The swap no longer interferes with plans for a future school or with the Haymaker Trailhead Master Plan, a joint project between Mountain Recreation and the town of Eagle. Mountain Recreation no longer opposes the amendment, and Eagle County Schools does not oppose the change either.
Other reasons for requesting the swap include “meeting local market and housing demands now, allowing us to fund future infrastructure and [a] higher level of compliance with area community plans … by clustering higher density [residential development] nearer [to the] town core,” Jens Werner, a member of the Haymeadow development team, said in an emailed statement last month.
The original Haymeadow planned unit development was approved by the Town Council seven years ago now, but the first house is yet to be built.
The team has been working to get the necessary infrastructure in place and wants to begin construction as soon as possible, Pylman said. For the town, the affordable housing promised in the development can’t come soon enough.
Email Kelli Duncan at email@example.com