Editorial: County should buy B&B parcel
Eagle County commissioners have made it clear that 2008 is going to be an action year on the issue of affordable housing, and the latest step in that direction is the potential purchase the B&B parcel a large chunk of land near the Eagle River Preserve in Edwards.Its a lot of money, probably in the area of $12 million, if we understand the deal correctly. The price tag is one of the reasons Commissioner Peter Runyon voted against the purchase. But we believe this is where the county should be spending its land acquisition money. Gaining control of some of these parcels is the first step that must be taken if the county is to lead the way in making up an estimated deficit of at least 3,400 homes needed for local workers with another 8,000 needed over the next decade. County towns and businesses are pitching in as well, but the county has the biggest reach as well as the biggest checkbook. With that comes the bigger responsibility and the bigger decisions some of which will no doubt prove unpopular with those who dont think the county should be doing any subsidized housing.We can talk all you want about providing affordable local housing, but if we dont have the land to do it on, thats all it is and will ever be: talk. When the commissioners last purchased a gravel pit the Eaton Ranch parcel, also in Edwards they took a lot of heat for making it open space instead of a mixed-use development. Here, another chance presents itself, and its time to act. This is an especially attractive parcel because its located in a core area close to jobs, transportation and retail. Yes, its a lot of money, but $500,000 per developable acre actually isnt bad for Eagle County, and dollar-for-dollar its less then Eaton Ranch was.The B&B parcel will need to be rezoned and will thus go through the usual public hearing process where citizens can weigh in on what should or shouldnt go on the land. The county needs to make sure it holds itself to its own policies and procedures as it moves forward addressing things like traffic, neighborhood concerns, county government critics plus all the other things any developer of a high-density project would have to confront.When the land is rezoned, the purchase price of the land can and should be divided between general funds and open-space funds. Overall, the decision to buy such a parcel on the valley floor is a good one that represents a realistic investment in the future of Eagle County.
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