Haymeadow — What’s the deal?
It’s the proposed Eagle development that’s been hanging out there for years and concertedly debated over the past few months.
It’s long been defined as Eagle’s boundary in the Brush Creek Valley and viewed as one of the final large-scale residential projects the town will contemplate.
Next week Haymeadow comes up for a vote.
Abrika Properties — a partnership of Ric Newman and Alan Cohen — has proposed Haymeadow as a 837-residential unit development planned at the 660-acre property south of the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. The proposal includes single family, duplex and multi-family units and although the price point of this housing has not yet been determined, Newman said Haymeadow is envisioned as a local residents housing project, not a second homeowner development. The plan includes 385 acres of natural open space, developed parks and trail corridors along with a new school site.
The Haymeadow application actually dates back about a decade, but Newman and Cohen opted to table their proposal until a revision of the Eagle Area Community Plan was written. An aggressive hearing schedule started in December so that the current Eagle Town Board members could complete consideration of the proposal prior to the April 1 municipal election. As a result, eight meetings devoted to various Haymeadow topics have been held and the Eagle Town Board is slated to render its Haymeadow decision next Tuesday, March 25.
“Our approach with the town has been to work patiently,” said Newman. “I would say that we are very pleased with the way the plan has evolved during our negotiations.”
Following is an examination of some of the largest issues involved in the Haymeadow application and details of the agreements the town and the developers have negotiated.
Traffic issues quickly emerged as the largest concern for the Haymeadow plan.
In particular, concerns regarding access to the development were highlighted.
“Up to now, the town has put all of its traffic money into Eby Creek Road improvements,” noted Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney. With the construction project to build five new roundabouts at Eagle’s main access to Interstate 70 now under way, the town’s attention is shifting inward. In the case of Haymeadow, it is shifting to both Sylvan Lake Road and Capitol Street as well as U.S. Highway 6.
Haymeadow’s big traffic solution is construction of the long-debated and long-awaited Brush Creek bypass road.
The new road would extend from the current three-way stop at Capitol Street and Brush Creek Road. It would pass south of the Bull Run loop road and through the former U.S. Forest Service property before connecting to US6. The Haymeadow team estimates a $3 million price tag for the bypass construction.
“It became very apparent through the review process that the Brush Creek Road extension was an important improvement to the entire community,” said Newman.
The town board negotiated a deal that requires construction of the bypass within five years of the start of Haymeadow home-building or at the 300-unit point, whichever comes first. Additionally, Stavney noted that the agreement calls for a completed road, not a specific dollar amount.
Additionally, the town will exact a $700,000 payment from the developer for a comprehensive Highway 6 traffic study and $670,000 in road impact fees.
If traffic is the largest issue facing the Haymeadow, proposed amenities are the development’s biggest carrot.
The centerpiece of the plan is the 20-acre Trailhead Park which includes a new pavilion building equipped with a full commercial kitchen, a spray park, ‘adventure playground,’ multiuse field, community gardens, a pair of ponds complete with deck areas, a dog park and more.
“These are all things that I heard from friends of mine in Eagle that the community lacked,” said Newman.
In that same vein, Newman took note of the results from the recent community survey which rated the town’s trails, paths and sidewalks as Eagle’s top amenity. The Haymeadow plan includes more than 15 miles of new multi use trails, including the popular Haymaker Trail that was built in 2013 and served as the site for the Colorado High School Cycling League State Championships. Newman noted the developments trail system connects to existing paths and expands commuter and recreation options and public lands access beyond Haymeadow’s borders.
The third large Haymeadow amenity is the 32-acre school site located adjacent to the town’s Eagle Pool and Ice Rink property. Because of its location, the Haymeadow school site will result in a 52-acre area that can be master planned to include a school and recreation fields.
“I am really excited about what this could mean for Eagle with regard to our discussions with the school district about future facilities,” said Stavney.
Newman also noted that the stand of willow trees that characterizes the property today will be preserved as an open space tract and mirrored in other parts of the development as a separation between neighborhoods. Additionally, a wildlife corridor is planned at the property’s southeastern boundary.
Haymeadow will donate 1.6 acres for a second fire station in Eagle and also will pay $660,000 up front in impact fees to build it.
Newman said the development team is pleased to be providing the fire station site, which will benefit not only Haymeadow, but also Eagle Ranch and other residents who live in the Brush Creek Valley.
The payment of fire impact fees was a bit more testy. Initially, the Haymeadow team proposed a deal where the land dedication for the fire station would satisfy the impact fee payment, but representatives from the Greater Eagle Fire District argued that they need the impact fees in addition to the land so they can afford to build and equip the station.
Ultimately the town board agreed to back the district and called for both the land dedication and the up-front fee payment.
For members of the Eagle Town Board, the question of long term finances marked the hard sell part of the negotiations.
Town board members noted that by approving the residential vision for Haymeadow, the town would increasing its maintenance responsibilities for streets, paths, water lines, wastewater lines and other infrastructure.To that end, the town pushed for a deal that channeled 60 percent of the 1 percent real estate transfer tax (imposed on Haymeadow home sales) to the Eagle general fund. Estimates indicate that this deal will generate $6 million for the town during build out and $300,000 per year in perpetuity. The town will also see an estimated $8 million in use tax revenues during the proposed 20-year build out period.
In part because development of the Haymeadow property will require construction of Eagle’s long-planned lower basin water treatment plant, which will be located up stream from the town’s wastewater plant, Eagle negotiated with Haymeadow to pre-pay $3 million in water tap fees.
Finally, as a selling point for their plan, the Haymeadow team claims that the development will produce more than 310 construction-related jobs annually and inject more than $13 million in personal income into the local economy,
“These are jobs for people who are living in Eagle, who are struggling to make it,” said Newman. He noted that he and Cohen have committed to employ local workers to build their project.
“The end result will be a benefit for Eagle. There are lots of empty store fronts around Eagle and Haymeadow will provide the amount of people needed to provide Eagle with a vital economy,” Newman said.
While the Haymeadow hearing process has not generated the crowds the town board saw during its recent Eagle River Station debate, the proposal does have its fair share of critics.
Haymeadow opponents have cited density, traffic, wildlife and other concerns with the proposal.
Kraige Kinney, a Brush Creek Road resident has been outspoken in his concern that the overall density proposed at Haymeadow is too large and as a result the traffic, wildlife and other issues are exacerbated.
“I am in support of you approving this. I think it should be about 100 units less,” Kinney told the town board back in December.
“As an Eagle citizen and downtown Eagle business owner I realize that vitality in any town is derived from having engaged residents from all walks of life,” said Jan Rosenthal Townsend, owner of Alpine Ambience. “Because of that, it could certainly be in my best business interest to be in favor of Haymeadow, since we specialize in window coverings, home accessories and gifts. However, I really value the Brush Creek valley for the crowning jewel that it is.”
Townsend calls traffic the most critical issue facing Haymeadow and agreed with Kinney that the requested density at the site is too high.
“It takes away from our quality of life — the main reason people move here according to various surveys. I really can’t fathom the high volume of traffic that would come from such a big development- in fact, only 100 new homes would create way too much traffic without numerous improvements.”
Townsend noted if each new home in the development created seven to nine trips per day at 100 units there would be 700 to 900 more cars in Eagle daily.
“I think we all need to look at the greater good of the community (our quality of life) and not just have personal business interests cloud our thinking,” she said. “As we know, Haymeadow is not being developed in the near future and because of that, it will not be helping businesses for many years down the road. It will be successful in the far future only if there is enough demand to build any of it.”
“Haymeadow as proposed will destroy any recognition of Brush Creek Valley, as valued by the majority of citizens of the entire area,” said Rosie Shearwood, Brush Creek Road resident. “Haymeadow is inappropriately large and will have immeasurable impact on wildlife as well as quality of life for everyone in Eagle. As proposed it is too large and the traffic impacts cannot be mitigated by simply adding improvements to Highway 6.”
“ I feel the town is being wooed into an approval by the perks that are being offered now, while any other benefits to our economy will be many years down the road,” Shearwood continued. “An approval will give vested rights and in my opinion would be very premature.”
Gore Creek since 2013 has been listed on the state’s list of “impaired waterways.” Several years of work are paying off, but getting off the list has become more difficult.