Edwards residents question commissioners on land deal | VailDaily.com

Edwards residents question commissioners on land deal

Melanie WongEDWARDS, CO Colorado

EDWARDS A stalled Edwards land deal was the was the source of contention between residents and county officials Wednesday night.About 50 residents gathered at the Homestead Court Club to question County Commissioners Sara Fisher and Peter Runyon about a potential $12 million land purchase that may be a future site for affordable housing.Negotiations for buying the 105-acre B&B Excavating property just west of the Eagle River Preserve in Edwards are stalled, commissioners said.Runyon had been reluctant to make the offer for the land. He said he thought there were better places to put affordable housing, the cost was too high and at the time of the offer, there was no chance for public input.Edwards residents were worried about the lack of plans for the land and what potential development might mean for traffic and the Eagle River ecosystem.The idea is to buy the land while it is available and then plan for development in the future, Fisher said. That way, the county can develop the land without the pressure of developers.Housing studies show that dense, infill housing such as the 185 condominiums in the recently approved West End project in Edwards is the best way to provide affordable housing, Fisher told residents. But did the studies elect you, or did we? said Homestead resident Ellen Eaton, who organized the meeting.

Residents said they were frustrated the commissioners were not honoring their vision for Edwards. The community master plan calls for the B&B land to be a recreational site with little to no development, said Bob Warner, a developer who helped create Edwards community plan.Residents want limited, reasonable growth, and 500 homes on the B&B site is just not reasonable, he said.(The residents) are pretty unanimous in their disappointment in the countys ability to honor their desires, Warner said.Old Edwards Estate resident Janette Henry said she does not want to see more high density.Downtown Edwards is just perfect the way it is with its mix of stores and businesses. Any more is going to be too much, she said.

Singletree resident George Gregory said he went to the meeting to get more information about the land deal and to tell the commissioners that Edwards is not the place for more affordable housing. The area already has work-force housing at Miller Ranch, the Eagle River mobile-home park, Lake Creek Village and the upcoming West End, he said.Edwards should not be the repository for every solution to problems perceived by the commissioners, Gregory said.But thats not true, Fisher said. The county is working on potential housing sites, and buying homes to sell as affordable housing across the county, including the Stratton Flats affordable neighborhood planned for Gypsum, she said.Residents had some alternative ideas for building housing, including moving it down to Wolcott, making businesses that generate the need pitch in, and rallying builders to get involved.Others admitted that finding solutions is a challenge.(The commissioners) are definitely in a hard position, Henry said. I dont know the answer. Its a tough situation.

Eaton, who was on the county planning commission, said she still is not sure if residents concerns are enough to keep more dense development from being built in downtown Edwards.It doesnt seem to matter. Things get developed just like the developer wants, she said.Fisher said she would still move the buy the land if negotiations started up again.Its buying ourselves some breathing room. We can try and control growth, but growth is coming our way, she said.But Gregory said he hopes there will be more discussion.I hope to sit down with the commissioners and residents to come up with more constructive solutions, he said.Henry said the most important thing was the commissioners got to hear residents opinions.I think when they were negotiating before, they didnt understand what the community wanted, she said.Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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