Gravel pit development plans in the works |

Gravel pit development plans in the works

Scott N. Miller
NWS Eaton Property1 BH 5-14 Vail Daily/Bret Hartman

Something’s going to happen at the Eaton Ranch in Edwards. Just what will happen, and when, remain open questions.Developers Rick Hermes and George Sanders have a purchase contract on 70 acres of the 90-acre parcel between Interstate 70 and U.S. Highway 6, basically just west of the commercial center that holds Fiesta’s restaurant. The property under contract is, mostly, the current B&B Excavating gravel pit, which will wind up its operations this year.While the property was originally set for closing last month, Hermes said the current closing date is open-ended, depending on when property owner Bruce Eaton gets county approval to split a 90-acre parcel into two pieces. Hermes’ group would purchase the larger piece, with Eaton retaining ownership of the 20-acre parcel between the Eagle River and I-70

County planner Joe Forinash said the request for the “minor subdivision” and zoning change would allow just one home to be built on each parcel. He added that any additional development would require another zoning change.Forinash said he doesn’t see any major issues with Eaton’s request, which will go to the Eagle County Planning Commission this month, and is scheduled for a hearing by the Eagle County commissioners on July 6.Once Eaton has that approval, Hermes said his group will close on the property, then start in earnest on planning. “When I get this closed, we’ll go ahead with more fact-finding,” Hermes said. “Then I’ll do what I believe needs to be done as far as planning.”The prospect of development on the property concerns Edwards resident Peter Runyon, a Democrat who is running against Republican Richard De Clark for the county commissioner’s seat being vacated by Michael Gallagher.

Runyon recently circulated a petition that urged any future developer to “work in conjunction with preservation minded organizations such as the Vail Valley Foundation, the Eagle Valley Land Trust, and the Conservation Fund.””If you overdevelop this property, you ruin what we all came here for,” he said.Since passing the petition, Hermes and Runyon have talked about the future of the property. Runyon said that conversation was productive, but he remains wary.

“My concern is he’s going to want more density than residents think is a good idea,” Runyon said. Depending on what kind of plan is eventually submitted to the county, opposition could be stiff, he added.Hermes acknowledged that buying a property without zoning is a risk, especially since any development plan will require running both a bureaucratic and political gauntlet. However, he said, it’s a risk he’s confident taking.”But before I go out to Old Edwards Estates and Homestead to talk about this, I would like a chance to evaluate the property,” Hermes said. “I don’t want to get involved with conversations about what it’s going to be before that.”One thing Hermes did say is that concerns about “paving over” the property are unfounded. “I want this to be a place I’d want to live,” he said. “As a citizen of Eagle County, I want a good project. This is an opportunity to do just that.”

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