Fredric Butler: History says: Eagle project doesn’t fit
On Tuesday, The Eagle Town Board has the onerous task to do a final “spin” on a piece of rural pasture land where hay has historically been raised, trees nurtured for resale, and livestock or wildlife graze into an urban site. In the first place, once having stretched to that rationale, the board then must parse the agricultural usage into a “blighted” condition to accommodate this one developer ” all this is analogous to President Bush’s assertion that all of the Iraqi countryside is urban, blighted, and therefore needs the aid of the U.S. to redevelop it.
If your mind thinks in English, you will readily discern that the Eagle River Station parcel in no way fits the definition of an “urban blighted” zone. If your mind thinks politically, then the construction promoted by Trinity/Red makes perfect sense. Congratulations, you have just fallen into the cuckoo nest. If the board defines a rural site with agricultural improvements as a blighted, urban site, how would it define the urban area of old Eagle? For that matter, how would it characterize the national forest lands?
As I look out of my window from the Brush Creek Saloon, I truly worry that the next spin will be that old Eagle is a nuisance area and should be condemned for the benefit of a corporate developer that knows how to install a “lifestyle” center in the stead of historical Eagle.
For the board to approve the Eagle River Station plan as stated by Trinity/Red, it has other issues to address ” issues that Eagle’s Planning and Zoning Commission have resolved in a logical, sensible and sane basis; those being:
1) The Eagle River Station plan conflicts with Eagle’s self-image. Historically, the board has held that a low density, golfing venue with a small boutique hotel that is situated 8 miles south of Eagle (Adam’s Rib) is not in keeping with Eagle’s ambiance of a “small western town.” It has also held that an industrial center situated 2 miles west of town and beneath the flight path of a lucrative airport (Airport Gateway Center) is not compatible with Eagle’s vision of itself.
With this historical perspective by the board, you would assume that the Eagle River Station project would be resoundingly rejected by it, what with its acres of asphalt, towering Soviet-style condos, high density, big box (medium size, lifestyle size or what have you) stores, traffic fomenting snarls, and one commercial and corporate landlord for the transient tenants and nonexistent employees. Why would the Eagle River Station project be spun into an acceptable image for Eagle when the other projects were not? If you are a politician, you would think my question is ridiculous; if you are a reasonable man, you would tend to rely on precedence and feel confident that Eagle River Station is DEAD. Of course ,we have reasonable men on the Board!
2) The Eagle River Station project creates a new and separate town. The Planning and Zoning Commission held that there would be a new “Town of Eagle River Station” were the project to be approved; that this would violate the provisions of the Eagle Area Community Plan and master plan for Eagle.
For the board to reject this finding it would be proclaiming that planning and zoning commission is a forum that is not composed of reasonable men, so how could they (planning and zoning) ever think that a project that is 2 miles away, accessed by its own interchange, isolated by horrendous traffic on Eby Creek Road, and regional and mall-like in character (not local or owner operated) is not a part of old Eagle? How do bicycles and pedestrians connect with the old town (roundabouts are for motor vehicles only)?
Perhaps we should eschew the opinions of reasonable men, and consult with a lawyer for guidance in our perceptions. I, for one, feel that the majority on the Planning and Zoning Commission are reasonable men and did recognize that the legion of disparities far outweighed the paucity of similarities.
3) The physical character of Eagle River Station does not comply with the Eagle Area Community Plan. What store or area in old Eagle is surrounded by acres of asphalt? What building in old Eagle is 65 feet tall? Does old Eagle have its own interchange? Eby Creek Road services Costco and Gypsum to the west as much as it does Eagle. What out-of-state corporation owns and leases out all of the commercial businesses in old Eagle? Does old Eagle have an upscale ghetto the size of Eagle River Station? The features of this project belie the patent and expressed prohibitions of the community plan. Will the board ignore the historical work of its citizens and proclaim a different agenda in the chase for that elusive sales tax dollar? Is the promise by Trinity/Red of extravagant sales tax revenues a junk bond for the gullible and naive? This project should only survive if the promises of dubious and prospective sales tax revenues trump the strictures of the Eagle Area Community Plan. So, where are those “promises” to be found in the Eagle Area Community Plan?
4) The town staff’s conditions are not acceptable to the applicant. The numerous conditions prerequisite for approval as outlined in the “gray area” have not all been agreed upon by Trinity Red. The planning commission based its decision on the project as a whole, notwithstanding the recommendations of town staff.
If the board does not follow the advisement of the commission, will it follow the town staff’s recommendation? Remember, staff is composed of town employees who are subject to the political nuances of superiors “”adhere or perish!” Planning and zoning members, on the other hand, are independent and are more capable of being objective and circumspect.
Now, here’s the rub: will the town board heed and adhere to the recommendation of its independent advisor (the planning commission)? Or, will it approve the Eagle River Station project (with conditions) as recommended by its employee (the town staff)? What message will be sent to the citizens of Eagle were the board to castigate the planning commission for being unreasonable and laud the staff as being a good employees?
There are interesting times ahead, to say the least!
Fredric Butler is an Eagle resident.