Edwards lands preserved with open space funds | VailDaily.com

Edwards lands preserved with open space funds

Matt Zalaznick

Two empty patches of land between the Eagle River and the freeway in east Edwards’ will remain undeveloped and receive $2,500 a year for upkeep, the Eagle County Board of County Commissioners has decided.

The tracts, totaling approximately 50 acres, are east of the Miller Ranch Road bridge and north of the river. They were designated by the commissioners for permanent preservation under the county’s open space program, which is funded by a property tax approved by voters two years ago.

Battling weeds and other maintenance on the land will cost $2,500 a year. The money will come from the open space taxes.

“These parcels cannot be reverted to another use without a vote by the people,” said Cliff Simonton, an open space planner for the county. “What the commissioners did was made sure these 50 acres will officially be part of the open space program and therefore the rules that apply to the open space program will apply to these properties.”

When a piece of land is purchased with open space taxes, it is immediately preserved under county’s conservation regulations. Since the Edwards land was already owned by the county, but had not be purchased with the open space taxes, the commissioners had to pass a special resolution to designate it as open space, Simonton said.

In preserving the land, the commissioners were guided by the committee set up to review preservation proposals and advise the board on how to spend the open space taxes. The advisory committee said that without open space designation, there would be no guarantee the land would be preserved, regardless of whether the $2,500 a year was spent maintaining the land.

“It’s a gorgeous piece of land in the middle of a very developed area,” said Gil Marchand, a member of the advisory committee.

A row of luxury homes is being built across the river from the land and to the west is Berry Creek Middle School and the affordable housing complex at Middle Creek, which is also still under construction.

The commissioners are expected to make a potentially much more expensive open space decision next month. On June 1, the commissioners are scheduled to vote on whether to spend $2 million to preserve portions of the Bair Ranch at the eastern end of Glenwood Canyon.

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