Is this where Eagle ends? | VailDaily.com

Is this where Eagle ends?

For nearly 20 years now, a theoretical line has defined where Eagle will end.

Now with the proposed development of the Haymeadow property, that line could become an actual boundary.

"There is a good chance this is the last large ticket residential subdivision in the Eagle area," noted Eagle Town Manager Jon Stavney. "This is really the last piece of the puzzle."

Back in 1996, the town and Eagle County paired up to commission a comprehensive master plan that looked at future development options, not only in the community, but also in the valleys that radiate from the town. One of the signature ideas that came out of the 1996 Eagle Area Community plan was the notion of a growth boundary in the Brush Creek Valley — a particular point where the town would stop.

Now, 17 years later, the town is approaching that line. The Haymeadow represents the point where Eagle has said development will transition from urban to rural as part of its comprehensive vision for the future. It is literally the moment when the future becomes the present.

"The fact that the Haymeadow would be the last development in the growth boundary is reflected in the characteristics we included in the plan," said Ric Newman, developer of the project.

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Newman noted that together with his partner Alan Cohen, he decided to table presentation of a development plan for Haymeadow until a revision of the Eagle Area Community Plan was completed. As a result of that decision, Newman said issues such as accessibility to open space, public trails and density clustered closer to the existing town emerged as important hallmarks of their plan.

Now as the future is poised to transect with the present, the Eagle Town Board has laid out an aggressive review schedule to consider the Haymeadow plan beginning next week and continuing on through March 25.

"Some people probably feel the town and the developer are rushing through review of this new project, but this development was anticipated back when the Eagle Area Community Plan was adopted," said Stavney.

At issue is a plan for 787 residential units on a 660-acre property located east and south of the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. (See related story for more details of the Haymeadow plan).

Like any development proposal in town, Haymeadow has its proponents and opponents. Those who favor the plan say the additional residential development will provide Eagle with the critical mass it needs so that its businesses and services can prosper. Opponents cite concerns that the development will force wildlife out of the valley and result in large traffic problems.

Long gestation

Newman has consistently stated that the Haymeadow plan envisions a long-term build-out. "This is truly a 20-year project," he said in 2011 when the proposal first came before the town.

During the initial hearing process, the Eagle Town Board trimmed nearly 200 units from the project's overall density and noted there were issues that needed to be worked out before the Haymeadow could proceed. The biggest single issue for the development is traffic.

The main access for Haymeadow is Brush Creek Road, an already congested roadway that serves residents of The Terrace in addition to the homes located up the Brush Creek Valley. Haymeadow residents could also access the development via Sylvan Lake Road, but with 787 new homes, additional traffic improvements would be needed in that area as well.

The town believes that construction of the long-discussed Brush Creek bypass is a critical part of the overall Haymeadow traffic plan. The bypass would be a new street connecting from the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Capitol Street to U.S. Highway 6. The road would be located just south of the Bull Run loop and continue through the former U.S. Forest Service property. The town's position is that the developer is responsible for construction of the bypass, along with various road improvements such as stoplights along Sylvan Lake Road, if needed.

Additional issues expected to spark Haymeadow debate include open space and wildlife concerns.

Newman has repeatedly described Haymeadow as a "conservation oriented community" characterized by large open space tracts. As the plan evolved, Newman said 60 percent of the overall project has been earmarked as open space.

"It has taken a little longer than we thought, but out of that came the conservation-oriented development plan and the focus on recreation and trails," said Newman.

"The open space is the main project amenity."

The Eagle Town Board will begin its review of the Haymeadow proposal next Tuesday, Dec. 10, at Eagle Town Hall. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.