Frost Creek coming back to table
The documents will no doubt look familiar to planners and interested citizens. This is the third trip through the county review process for Frost Creek.
The Frost Creek plan calls for 60 homes with caretaker units, a clubhouse and a private golf course on 1,100 acres west of Brush Creek, about 10 miles south of Eagle. The Salt Creek plan calls for 21 homes on a 537-acre parcel east of Brush Creek in the vicinity.
Randy Cloyd, Kummer’s local representative, said the proposals will go to the county’s planning staff next month. The Eagle County Planning Commission could hold its first hearings on the proposal this fall.
Cloyd said the proposals are identical to the sketch plan approved by the Eagle Town Board in February as part of an out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit Kummer filed against the town.
That suit was filed to compel the town to provide water service to Kummer’s Brush Creek properties as part of a 1983 contract for 200 water taps. While Kummer still must get Eagle County approval for the Frost Creek, Salt Creek and Brush Creek parcels, the deal for town water service is a crucial element for county permits.
The water service settlement was more detailed than a mere contract. In essence, the plan was a sketch plan depiction of what much of Kummer’s Brush Creek property will eventually look like, defining building areas, open space, and access to public land, among other details.
That sketch of more than 2,600 acres of Kummer holdings includes the Frost Creek and Salt Creek parcels, as well as the newly-designated Brush Creek parcel, a 1,500-acre property on the east side of Brush Creek north and south of the first town water tank about three miles up the creek. The settlement with the town calls for 135 homes on the Brush Creek parcel. Kummer said this week there is no timetable for development of the Brush Creek parcel.
Also off the radar screen is 660 acres of the lower Adam’s Rib Ranch. That parcel, which is closest to the town of Eagle, was part of the settlement only in that Kummer agreed to go through the town’s annexation process to develop the property.
Kummer said there is no current plan for that parcel.
While the deal with the town cleared a massive stumbling block for Kummer, he still has the entire county process to go complete.
“It will be subject to the county land use regulations and all the findings relative to those, just like any other development,” said Keith Montag, director of the Eagle County Community Development Department. “At the same time, we’re very much aware of the agreement (with the town) and we’ll be studying that.”
The settlement bars town officials from opposing Kummer’s application for a county “1041” permit, which covers water and related environmental issues.
But longtime opponents of Kummer’s plans for Brush Creek plan to speak up.
Annie Egan, who has long opposed Kummer’s development plans, acknowledged that the current plan is better, in terms of density, than any previously presented.
On the other hand, she said, the plan still is out of compliance with the guidelines of the Eagle County Master Plan and the Eagle Area Community Plan. She also noted that by developing property farthest away from town first, Kummer is proposing the type of “leapfrog” development both those plans discourage.
“We have these plans. Let’s use them,” said Egan.
While Eagle Town Board members who voted for the settlement generally agree with those statements, sentiment among most members was that this deal represents a good compromise.
When the deals were signed in February, Eagle Mayor Roxie Deane noted that the deal with Kummer puts about 200 units on more than 2,600 acres. “We know that’s the worst it can be up there,” she said.
Similarly, Brush Creek resident Cindy Cohagen said the current proposal isn’t so bad, all things considered.
As director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust, Cohagen said her first preference would be to keep the ranch as much in its current state as possible.
“It’s an absolutely phenomenal piece of property,” said Cohagen. “It really captures our Western heritage, or what’s left of it.”
She added that from the Land Trust’s perspective, the best-case scenario would be a “conservation buyer,” who would buy the property and subject it to minimal development.
Kummer did have the property on the market late in 2001 and early this year.
Vail Realtor Ron Byrne, who listed the property, said he had several potential buyers look at the property, but none were willing to pay Kummer’s $24 million asking price.
Given the lack of a “conservation buyer,” Cohagen said the next-best fate for the property is “very low density, as (Kummer) is proposing.”
That level of density suits Cohagen as a neighbor, too. The density of the Frost Creek proposal is “more in keeping with the density patterns up Brush Creek,” she said, adding “I’d certainly prefer 60 units to a higher density.”
This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.