Haymeadow presents vision for development | VailDaily.com

Haymeadow presents vision for development

EAGLE, Colorado – Developer Ric Newman unveiled his Haymeadow development proposal before the Eagle Town Board on Tuesday night, calling the plan a “20- to 30-year project.”

The Haymeadow plan calls for 979 residential units – multifamily and single-family dwellings – on the 660-acre property located southeast of town in the Brush Creek Valley adjacent to the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink site. Newman said the proposal is the culmination of seven years of planning and listening to the people of Eagle.

“I am very proud of the plan we are going to present tonight. We embraced the idea of conservation-oriented development,” Newman said.

He described the plan as being characterized by large open space tracts, which comprise the major amenity of the development. Newman said 60 percent of the land contained in Haymeadow will be classified as open space and that the proposal adds 11.5 additional miles of recreational trails to the town’s popular system. On the easternmost side of Haymeadow, a wildlife migration corridor ranging from 500 to 1,000 feet across runs north to south across the property. Newman also addressed the issue he called the elephant in the room.

“Why are we bringing in a 900-unit project at a time when people are losing their homes?” Newman said. “The answer is, even if we had our approval today, we would not start building (due to current market conditions).”

Citing that people tend to think that a good economy will never end and a bad economy will never improve, Newman said the reality is that economic conditions rise and fall cyclically and Haymeadow is poised for long-term development. Newman said he and his partner, Alan Cohen, own the land outright and are not under financial pressure to get a development project moving.

“I think that we have shown, during the past seven years, that we are patient,” he said. “We want to build the greenest, smartest development this valley has ever seen.”

At the onset of the discussion, Eagle Town Board member Kraige Kinney questioned the timing of the presentation. He said that Newman had waited seven years to bring a plan to the town and asked why he didn’t wait a couple of additional months until after the Town Board election in April. At that election, three Town Board seats and the mayor position will be up for grabs, and at a very minimum, one new member will be seated because Kinney is term limited. Kinney said it might make better sense to wait for the new board. Haymeadow planner Rick Pylman responded that the review process for Haymeadow will be lengthy and the specter of new board members coming into the mix is always going to be an issue. With that in mind, the developers opted to begin the process.

After the Haymeadow team completed the presentation outlining the development, the Town Board offered an opportunity for public comment. Brush Creek Road resident Rosie Shearwood told the board that she, along with other residents, thought that there would be no public comment this week and that’s why so few members of the public were present. Shearwood supported Kinney’s position that it would be more appropriate to take up the development review after the Town Board election in April and urged the board to give serious consideration to review comments from Eagle County and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“It is understandable that the owner of 660 acres would want to develop as much of it as possible to get maximum return on investment, but we would question the necessity of the size of this project at this time and would point to the downsides of such a sprawling approach for this specific property,” Eagle County Planning Director Bob Narracci wrote.

“The general consensus of county staff was that this project is a good example or ‘clustered sprawl’ and we would hope that additional effort would be made to place a greater percent of the development within actual walking and biking distance of existing town centers.”

Perry Will, area manager with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, noted that the proposed development would have three primary impacts. He noted development of Haymeadow would place more burden on adjacent public lands because animals would no longer have grazing access to the property. He added there is a potential loss of wetland and riparian areas and there is a need for a 1,000-foot migration corridor on the eastern side of the development.

“The direct impact and design of the four neighborhoods and 979 units of Haymeadow are located almost entirely on former and current irrigated pasture lands. The DPW had not and has not designated any of the irrigated agricultural fields within this project area as critical habitat. This is not to say that wildlife do not frequent and use the area,” Will wrote.

The Haymeadow hearings will continue Feb. 28.

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